Concerns mount for human toll after US blacklists Iran’s banks

The United States on Thursday imposed new sanctions that effectively shut Iran out of the global financial system – a move that is raising serious concerns about the human toll it could take on the Iranian people as they struggle with an already crippled economy and the worst COVID-19 crisis in the Middle East.

On Thursday, the US Treasury blacklisted 18 Iranian banks, effectively severing Iran’s financial sector from the rest of the global economy by exposing foreign banks, firms, and individuals that do business with them to possible punitive measures by Washington.

In a statement detailing Thursday’s financial sector blacklistings,  the US Treasury repeated its claim that Iran funds “malign” activities, and said sanctions “will continue until Iran stops its support of terrorist activities and ends its nuclear programs”.

Despite calls from United Nations officials and other global leaders to suspend sanctions while Iran is battling the coronavirus pandemic, Washington has not relented in its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran as the November 3 US election draws near.

While the Trump administration insists that sanctions do not interfere with the flow of humanitarian goods, critics both in Iran and outside of it are pushing back on Washington’s narrative, saying the new sanctions will further hobble Iran’s ability to purchase vital food and medicines.

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