US sanctions against Iran violate Iranian people's rights - UN experts

“The sanctions not only prevent the Iranian government from addressing them effectively; they contribute to making the challenges worse,” experts at the United Nations said.

A general view of Tehran city following the increase in air pollution in Tehran, Iran, November 24, 2021. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
A general view of Tehran city following the increase in air pollution in Tehran, Iran, November 24, 2021.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

United States sanctions against Iran are contributing to air pollution and other environmental damage and preventing people in the country, including refugees from Afghanistan and migrants, from “fully enjoying their rights to health and life,” United Nations experts said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Like many countries, Iran has environmental issues. The sanctions not only prevent the Iranian government from addressing them effectively, but they also contribute to making the challenges worse,” they added.

Air pollution in Iran

Air pollution is severe in parts of Iran, leading to higher rates of respiratory and other illnesses that cause 4,000 premature deaths in the capital Tehran alone and 40,000 across the country each year.

The Jerusalem Post in September cited researchers in Germany, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia as saying in a peer-reviewed study in Nature Communications that unusually high air pollution levels in the Middle East are mainly due to human activities, rather than dust storms, which are common in the region

Located in the "dust belt," the Middle East sees about 20 major dust storms annually, according to the report.

Iranians walk through Tehran Bazaar, in Tehran, Iran December 5, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)Iranians walk through Tehran Bazaar, in Tehran, Iran December 5, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

The UN statement said that US sanctions drive up pollution in Iran by forcing people who can't afford new cars to continue using old, inefficient ones and making it impossible for the country to acquire emission-reducing technology.

“It is no surprise that Tehran is one of the world’s most polluted cities," the statement added. "US sanctions force people to prolong the use of older vehicles that burn fuel less efficiently while making it impossible for Iran to obtain equipment and technology to reduce vehicle emissions.”

“US efforts to enforce its sanctions by threatening to penalize foreign companies doing business in Iran have led foreign car manufacturers to leave the country. So Iran must rely on locally made motors and other equipment that cannot use the latest technologies.”

US, European sanctions on Iran since protests began

The European Union in November imposed sanctions on 29 individuals and three organizations in Iran in response to the regime's crackdown on peaceful protests that began when Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of Iranian police, Reuters reported.

The US sanctioned Iran's religious "morality police" in September for the same reason.

“The sanctions against Iran contradict what seems to be a clear US position on this matter,” the UN statement added. “It is time for sanctions that impede Iran's ability to improve the environment and reduce the ill effects on health and life, to be eased or lifted completely so that Iranians can access their right to a clean environment, the right to health and to life, and other rights associated with favorable environmental conditions.”

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich and Reuters contributed to this report.