The US has imposed sanctions on Iran. Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

If you Google “Terrorism” the first definition that comes up is: the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Let’s look back to July 14, 2015 when Iran and the P5+1 signed a deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The gist of the pact was as follows: For Iran to implement specific limitations on its nuclear program, for a determined period of time, to reassure the other side of its peaceful intentions, and for P5+1 as a whole to lift all UN, multilateral and unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran.

On 8 May last year, the United States  officially withdrew from the agreement. The justification used by the US president was that “the deal is horrible”. Even after that weird act, Iran remained loyal to the agreement as reported by the IAEA. 

The United States took it further by imposing sanctions against Iran. Even the International Court of Justice order to stop the sanctions did not compel them to cease this illegal act. As the US Secretary of State mentioned “These are the toughest sanctions ever imposed.” The sanctions are unlawfully imposed on Iran and now who is suffering more? The answer is Iranians, the civilians who are living their lives in their own country having hope for better future. The United States is addicted to sanctions. Sanctions target ordinary citizens, civilians - people who need medicine and special treatment. They are targeting ordinary Iranian civilians, that is worse than war.

As a result of these sanctions, the quality of life has decreased, purchasing power falls, and some vital medicines are banned from being imported to Iran. The Tehran Times reported on May 27th that due to brutal sanctions and the embargo on the importation of products, the condition of some 300 EB patients has deteriorated and seven are sadly dead." Tying bread and medicine to politics is to kill and starve people into submission, which is not the act of civilized nations.

The US is acting against fundamental human rights and in breach of Article 3 (Everyone has the right to life…) and 5 (No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.) of the UDHR. Also take a look at Article 2:4 of the UN Charter that states:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

This is an explicit breach of human rights and an act of terrorism by the government of the US. They threatened Iran with war several times, isn’t this an act of intimidation? They deprived Iranians from their basic human needs, physically and mentally, in the pursuit of their political aims. Please reread the definition of terrorism, this has all of the characteristics of terrorism as defined above.

And what must a sovereign state do to save its people? After a year of strategic patience, Iran started reducing its commitments in two steps while it still remained loyal to JCPOA, in order to motivate other parties to save the pact. If no positive sign is received from the EU in compensating the US offence, Iran will take the third step in the JCPOA mechanism. 
If the JCPOA does not benefit why should Iran be loyal to it? With or without the JCPOA Iran does not have any advantage so why accept limitations?  Sanctions are a means of imposing a lawful order, and sanctions have a legal connotation. Then why do we use a lawful terminology of sanctions instead of terrorism?

We, the independent countries, must support each other against the unfair acts of bullying entities, as Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation stated in his article, published on 30 July on IOL with the title “Cuba, SA and international solidarity”:
 We {South Africa} will continue to support our friends such as Cuba, Iran, … and every other country which suffers from unilateral economic blockades, violations of international law and territorial sovereignty. 

The era of bullying has passed, sovereign states are cooperating with each other to solve the global issues. Javad Zarif Minister of Foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran said “the era, when the discourse of superpowers and bullying would rule the world is over. Today the US is alone in the world. Our discourse is one of companionship, cooperation, and empathy. It is for this reason that the US is alone in the world today”.

The first important step is not to capitulate to their rude orders and desires just because they are the US. The world cannot tolerate their intimidation. Economic terrorism is banned regardless of who is committing it. 

* Hamid Reza Oraee is the spokesperson of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in South Africa.