“We have done what we should have done. We bought vaccines from India and we paid for it, but then they said ‘our Judiciary has gotten in the way and we cannot give you the vaccines,’” Rouhani said during a video conference call on Thursday during a ceremony to inaugurate five national knowledge-based and innovative projects.
Pointing to the unprecedented US sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Rouhani said Tehran’s general impression was that no country would target another country’s access to basic needs such as food and medicine with sanctions, but the United States, under former president Donald Trump, proved Iran wrong.
“Trump dwarfed all the executioners of history as he started a war against the Iranian nation which had no boundaries, like a war that does not shy away from [using] chemical, microbial and nuclear weapons or [targeting] residential and non-residential areas,” he added.
The Iranian president further lamented that the “rebellious” and “lawless” US government has not eased its sanctions on Iran since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, hampering Iran’s efforts to buy necessary medicines and vaccines.
Under Trump, the US took several rounds of very hostile measures against Iran under a “maximum pressure” campaign Trump put into force to destroy Iran’s economy.
The sanctions, Iran has maintained on numerous occasions, have intensified the adverse effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran and hindered the Iranian government’s pathways to contain the deadly virus.
On Thursday, the Iranian Health Ministry said 185 more people had died of the highly infectious disease in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recorded deaths from the virus in Iran to 63,884.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani invoked US officials’ admission of the failure of the so-called maximum pressure policy and said the whole world, as well as the new US administration, acknowledges that the policy has brought about a harsh defeat for Washington.
He also explained that importing vaccines is not an easy job to do, stressing that “wherever there is a vaccine, we immediately provide money to purchase it.”
“I want to say that this is not a simple matter,” he said. “The administration, the Health Ministry and the Central Bank have taken all the necessary measures … and I stress that nothing comes before the issue of vaccines for us.”
The president noted that Iran has bought 16.8 million doses of vaccines via the World Health Organization’s COVAX global vaccine scheme, which is being gradually imported into the country.
Iran was among the front-runners in placing an early order to purchase vaccines, he said.
According to President Rouhani, Iran encountered numerous problems in transferring money to buy vaccines from the COVAX initiative. “We have money in foreign banks, but they are all frozen up by US sanctions,” he said.
The remarks came days after Iran received the first shipment of the COVAX plan, containing more than 700,000 doses of the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine sent from Amsterdam.
Meanwhile, Rouhani noted that Iran has also made every endeavor to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines.
Last month, the Islamic Republic unveiled a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Defense Ministry’s research center. The first phase of the human trial of the vaccine, dubbed Fakhra, was launched during a ceremony in Tehran on March 16.
In addition to Fakhra, Iran has developed three other vaccines, including Coviran Barekat developed by experts at the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Khomeini, Razi COV-Pars vaccine developed by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, and Soberana 2 vaccine which is a joint venture between Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute and Iran’s Pasteur Institute.
“It is a source of enormous pride for us Iranians that we are becoming self-sufficient in the fields of science and technology step by step, especially in the health sector, which is very important to us,” Rouhani remarked.
The Iranian chief executive added that once the domestic vaccine development bears fruit and Iranian vaccines hit the market, it will bring pride to Iranians and shame to Iran’s enemies.