WASHINGTON, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Thursday imposed fresh Iran-related sanctions to further pressure Tehran while the country is suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak.
The U.S. Department of Treasury designated five United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based companies that facilitate Iran's petroleum and petrochemical sales, according to a statement issued by the department.
"In 2019, these UAE-based companies collectively purchased hundreds of thousands of metric tons of petroleum products from NIOC for delivery to the UAE," the statement said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin accused Tehran of using "revenues from petroleum and petrochemical sales to fund its terrorist proxies, like the IRGC-QF, instead of the health and well-being of the Iranian people."
According to the designation, all property and interests in property of these entities have been blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday said that the United States would be responsible for the "destructive ramifications" of its unilateral sanctions against Iran as the country is fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
Zarif said that the economic siege imposed by the United States on Iran impedes all the legitimate trade and deprives the Iranians of their own resources, the ones necessary to address the needs of Iranians, including their health and livelihoods.
Zarif said the U.S. "illegal, inhuman and unilateral sanctions against Iran" should be removed as the country is struggling to stem the novel coronavirus.
Iran is among the countries that have been severely hit by the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education on Thursday announced the death of 1,284 people out of a total of 18,407 coronavirus cases, according to the official IRNA news agency.
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