Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Suspend sanctions against Iran for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic

As of today, 2,336 cases have now been confirmed in Iran and Iran has a high ratio of deaths to infections – now about 3.3%. Sanctions against Iran should be lifted immediately to help its populace and prevent the global spread of infection.

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The US administration has already lifted some sanctions and it is the humane thing to do.

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Government responded

This response was given on 30 March 2020

The UK lifted economic sanctions on Iran as part of the nuclear deal. There is no evidence remaining sanctions, targeted at nuclear and human rights concerns, affect Iran’s ability to fight Covid-19.

Read the response in full

The UK has responded rapidly to calls for assistance from Iran and the UN to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in Iran. Alongside France and Germany we have committed £2 million towards a €5 million package of support through the WHO and UN agencies. We will continue to consider carefully all requests made for further assistance in order to help Iran respond to the pandemic.

Sanctions can be used to change behaviour; constrain damaging action; or send a signal of condemnation. The Government believes sanctions can be an effective and reasonable foreign policy tool if they are part of a broader foreign policy strategy, and are appropriate to the purposes they are intending to achieve.

Current EU and UN sanctions (which the UK implements) against Iran are targeted at Iran’s nuclear weapons programme and at restricting Iran’s ability to develop and deliver nuclear weapons. These sanctions include an arms embargo; restrictive measures related to missile technology; restrictions on certain nuclear-related transfers and activities; an asset freeze for certain named individuals and entities and a travel ban for certain named individuals (a full list can be accessed at the link - https://ofsistorage.blob.core.windows.net/publishlive/ConList.html); and provisions concerning graphite and other semi-finished metals which are subject to an authorisation regime to address non-proliferation concerns. The Government has no plans to call for the suspension of these EU or UN sanctions on Iran as we believe these sanctions are both targeted and appropriate and have no significant impact on the ability of the Iranian authorities to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since January 2016 the UK has fully implemented its commitment under the Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) – to suspend EU economic sanctions on Iran; and its obligation under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 to lift certain UN sanctions. Sanctions suspended under the deal include those on the financial system and banks and restrictive measures on Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

The nuclear deal was designed to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and includes the eventual lifting of sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme in return for monitored, verified implementation of nuclear-related measures by Iran.

Separate to sanctions in place under the nuclear deal, there is an EU Iran human rights sanctions regime. It consists of asset freezes and travel bans on certain individuals and entities involved in human rights violations; and trade restrictions on specified goods and technology which may be used to repress the civilian population of Iran and on specified goods and technology which may be used for interception and monitoring services in Iran. Again, we believe these sanctions are targeted; do not believe they have a significant impact on Iran’s ability to respond to COVID-19; and given the gravity of the human rights situation in Iran are appropriate to address the ongoing serious human rights violations taking place in contravention of Iran’s international human rights obligations.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Other parliamentary business

Petitions Committee questions Government on its response to coronavirus

Last week the Petitions Committee put some of the most popular questions from the public about coronavirus to the Government Minister for Schools, the Minister for Disabled People and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. These included:

  • How long will schools be closed for and what will the impact be on exams and grades?
  • What financial support will be available for the self-employed?
  • What financial support will be offered to people who are unable to pay their rent or bills due to self-isolation or loss of work?
  • What support will be offered to the events, creative and hospitality industries now that pubs, clubs and cultural venues have been closed?
  • What clear, practical steps can people take to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, household isolation and self-isolation?
  • Who is being tested and why, and will tests be made freely available to everyone?
  • What is the Government doing to ensure that everyone is getting the right information?

Watch the session on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aPLXJcZEfi8

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

Because of the large number of petitions that we continue to receive on coronavirus we have sent more questions to the Government to answer.

Read our letters to different Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

Some of the questions we’ve asked include:

  • When will testing capacity will be increased; who will testing be available for and will it be free?
  • What is being done to tackle the spread of disinformation?
  • How quickly will support for self-employed people be made available?
  • What will happen to the school year? Will summer holidays be cancelled so that children can catch up?
  • How are foodbanks being supported to continue operating during the outbreak?
  • What is being done to address panic buying and prevent price hikes of key items?
  • Will trains, buses and flights continue to operate? For how long?

We’ll email you again to let you know when we get a response to these questions, and to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website.

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information

You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

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