Honourable António Guterres
United Nations, S-233
New York, NY 10017

2 April 2020

Dear Secretary General,

I am writing on behalf of the British Committee for Iran Freedom (BCFIF) to inform you about a recent campaign orchestrated out of Tehran and spearheaded by the Iranian Government to lift all sanctions against the country taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to take Iranian lives.

The international community, especially relevant UN Organs, Commissioners and Special Rapporteurs, should not fall for this sinister campaign which is entirely based on lies and propaganda by the regime in Iran to advance its own interests and survival. The sanctions imposed on Tehran either by the US, UK or the EU, are punitive measures in response to the regime’s unacceptable support for terrorism, destabilising activities in the region, pursue of illicit and clandestine nuclear and missile programme as well as serious human rights violations and killings at home. Lifting the sanctions at this moment will do nothing to help the Iranian people but only assist the regime to increase its unacceptable behaviour at home and abroad by continuing the domestic crackdown and by exporting terrorism abroad.

All evidence on the ground and realities in Iran indicate that the paramilitary terrorist force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be the main beneficiary of the sanction relief granted to Iran given its massive control over Iran’s economy and the import and export of the country.

But more importantly, the regime is the main reason for the worsening coronavirus pandemic in Iran, which it now exploits to advance its own political considerations and survival. Furthermore, the regime and the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani are perfectly aware that food, medicine and humanitarian aid are exempt from the sanctions, which is reiterated repeatedly by the US administration.

While the coronavirus continues to take the lives of innocent Iranians, the regime is covering up the true extent of the outbreak, arresting anyone who reveals the real number of the deaths in the country.

You should also know that documents from Iran’s National Emergency Organisation being made public by the opposition show that the regime knew about several Covid19 cases in Tehran as early as the end of January but chose to cover up the outbreak in a sinister attempt to not negatively impact the popular participation in the parliamentary election and the celebration of the anniversary of the 1979 revolution both taking place in February.

Despite this, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei claimed in 2 March that “Our officials have been transparent and honest since day one.”

The Iranian people will be the first victim if sanctions were lifted today as more funds to the regime means more funds to the IRGC to suppress domestic dissent, export terrorism and develop more advanced ballistic missiles and pursue an illicit nuclear weapons programme.

To be clear, we are strongly in favour of sending medicine, equipment, and practical help to help fight Covid19 – none of which should be subject to sanctions. However, it would be foolish and naïve in the extreme, under the cover of this terrible pandemic, to remove sanctions which have been imposed to demonstrate global outrage at Iran’s determination to use much need resources to develop nuclear weapons and while it continues to systematically violate human rights. We also note that while the regime cynically and opportunistically demands sanctions relief, it has rejected the US offer of assistance and recently expelled Doctors Without Borders from the country.

If the goal is to help the Iranian people during these difficult times, we urge you to immediately take the following steps:

- pressure the regime and the Iranian authorities to free all political prisoners and dual citizens held unjustly in Iran without any preconditions or delay;

- pressure the regime and the Iranian authorities to reveal the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic and the number of deaths in Iran in order to help the international community and NGOs to understand the crisis and to assist the Iranian people appropriately;

- take immediate actions in coordination with relevant UN organs and UN member states to monitor and supervise the medical and financial aid package sent to Iran to make sure that the aid truly goes to the Iranian people and those infected and is not stolen by the IRGC and domestic mafias close to the Supreme Leader and his faction.

In this regard, we direct your attention to the following remarks made by Iran’s Health Minister Saied Namaki on 15 July 2019: “1,3 billion dollars for the purchase of medical equipment has gone out and no one knows who exactly has taken them and what has been brought in and to whom they were handed over.”

This exposes the institutionalised corruption in Iran and the regime’s lies parroted by the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that sanctions are to blame for medical shortage in the country.

We urge you to not fall for this deception and take the opportunity to call on the regime and its leaders on their cover-up and lies.

Thank you for considering our letter and we look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool,
Independent Crossbench Member of the House of Lords