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Sanctions virus more dangerous to intl. security than corona: Iran’s Shamkhnai

The Iranian top security official says the virus of imposing sanctions and reneging on pledges is more dangerous to international security than the coronavirus.

“The virus of sanctions and failure to honor promises is threatening international security more than the coronavirus,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali  Shamkhani tweeted on Saturday.

Regarding Washington’s offer of assistance to Iran, Shamkhani said “the US claim that it is ready to help Iran can only be verified through the country’s implementation of its legal obligations under the JCPOA.”

Shamkhnai was referring to the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was signed in 2015 between Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — and endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.

Last week, President Donald Trump said that the US was willing to help the Iranians with the coronavirus outbreak, adding that “all they have to do is ask.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also claimed that the Islamic Republic did not have a solid healthcare infrastructure and that Washington had offered to help Tehran with the coronavirus response.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani rejected the US offer of help as insincere, saying Washington should first lift its sanctions on medical supplies if it really seeks to help the Islamic Republic.

The same country that has been taking the most “sinister” of actions against the Iranians over the past two years by re-imposing sanctions on their supplies of food and medicine is now hiding behind “a mask of sympathy” and pretending that it means to assist the nation, he emphasized.

US would lift medical sanctions if its virus help offer were genuine: Rouhani

US would lift medical sanctions if its virus help offer were genuine: Rouhani President Rouhani says the US must first lift the medical sanctions it has imposed on Iran if its offer of help in the fight against the coronavirus is not a lie.

The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after unilaterally scrapping the JCPOA.

The illegal US bans have severely impacted the Iranians’ access to life-saving medical supplies and hampered the country’s ability to respond to the coronavirus.

Official: 1,076 new patients; 1,669 recovered 

On Saturday, an Iranian Health Ministry official reported 21 new deaths from the coronavirus and 1,076 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall tolls to 145 dead and 5,823 infected.

“More than 16,000 people are currently hospitalized as suspect cases,” ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference as he announced the tolls.

A lawmaker from Tehran was among the latest victims of the virus. Fatemeh Rahbar had recently been elected to the parliament from the capital. The 55-year-old lawmaker was already living with some medical conditions which deteriorated after she contracted the coronavirus. 

Jahanpour said that 1,669 of confirmed cases have recovered from the illness, including in some provinces where recovery rate has reached 40 percent.

He said the number of specialized coronavirus labs in the country has risen to 30.

“We hope that by increasing the number of laboratories to 100, we will be able to bring down the time of diagnosis to 48 hours, even though our doctors immediately begin to treat patients who show symptoms and supportive measures are taken right away,” he said.

Iran also began Saturday trying 10 people charged with hoarding health supplies and disrupting the country’s economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The defendants, including three Tajik nationals and seven Iranians, are charged with trying to smuggle 2.6 million face masks to China, Tasnim news agency reported. 

Iran’s Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raeisi on Monday ordered severe punishment for those hoarding pharmaceutical and health products which are crucially needed to fight the deadly virus outbreak. 

Coronavirus is ‘bio-terror attack’

Separately on Friday, Iranian lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, who is a member of the parliament’s National Security Commission, told ISNA news agency that the coronavirus epidemic in China and Iran is a “bio-terror attack.”

“Trump and Pompeo are lying about corona as it is not the agent of an ordinary disease, but rather bio-terrorism that has been deployed in China and Iran,” he said, proposing the establishment of bio-terror defense headquarters.

The senior Iranian lawmaker also said Washington’s offer of help to Tehran is “political showoff”.

Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami has also said the coronavirus is perhaps a bio-terror attack by the United States.

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