Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that Washington should lift sanctions if it wants to help Tehran to stop the spread of the coronavirus — adding that the country has no intention of accepting an offer of humanitarian assistance.
The Islamic Republic is the Middle Eastern nation worst hit by COVID-19, with more than 1,800 deaths and at least 23,000 people infected, according to Reuters.
Washington has offered humanitarian assistance to its longtime nemesis, but Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei flatly rejected it on Sunday.
In a televised speech Monday, Rouhani said: “American leaders are lying … If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions …. Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak.”
Tehran’s mullahs have blamed US sanctions for impeding its efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak and Rouhani has urged Americans to call on the White House to lift sanctions as Iran fights the disease.
“U.S. is NOT listening, impeding global fight against #COVID19. The ONLY remedy: DEFY U.S. mass punishment. MORAL & PRAGMATIC imperative,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter on Monday.
But Washington has made it clear to Iran that the spread of the virus will not save it from the sanctions, which are isolating its economy and choking off its oil revenues.
Tensions between Tehran and the Washington have spiked since President Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which had imposed restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
“You have blocked Iran’s oil exports, you have stopped Iran’s banking transactions … Your help offer is the biggest lie in the history,” Rouhani said Monday.
The outbreak has infected multiple senior officials, politicians, clerics, members of the elite Revolutionary Guards and dozens of lawmakers in Iran. At least a dozen of them have died.
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