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US ‘responsible’ for all crimes against Iranians: Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has lashed out at the US administration over the imposition of inhumane sanctions and the so-called maximum pressure on the country, saying the White House is responsible for all the hostile measures and crimes against the Iranian nation.

Rouhani made the remarks at a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the coronavirus in the capital, Tehran, on Saturday.

“The Americans stopped the entry of medicine and food to our country through illegal and inhumane sanctions as well as terrorist operations. We have never seen people with such level of barbarism at the White House. They committed the worst atrocities,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian president also censured the US administration in Washington for blocking Tehran’s efforts to receive a $5b loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April to fight against the coronavirus.

During his speech on Saturday, Rouhani told the domestic opponents of his administration that they must not give a “wrong address” to Iranian people about the shortages of medicine and emergency supplies in the country.

“The correct address for all the crimes and pressure on the dear people of Iran is Washington, DC, the White House,” he noted. “And those who are inside that building have committed all these crimes against the Iranian people, and you can see that there is pressure and problems on a daily basis.”

Rouhani went on to say that, “Our people stood firm and resisted, did not knit their brows and did not bow to these bullies.”

Stressing that the Iranian people should direct their anger at the White House, the president said, “I have no doubt that the US government will one day surrender and kneel before the Iranians and that the Iranian nation will be victorious.”

Rouhani also said Washington is angry with the Iranian government’s appropriate management of the coronavirus outbreak despite draconian sanctions imposed on the country.

Iran, the hardest-hit country by the new coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East, has been almost on its own fighting the disease as sanctions have seriously hampered its access to drugs and vital medical equipment needed to contain the virus.

Tehran has repeatedly said it does not seek Washington’s help in the fight, but wants the White House to lift the illegal economic sanctions so that Iran could mobilize its own resources to tackle the pandemic.

The United States reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a UN-endorsed multilateral nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic and five other countries.

Rouhani on Saturday authorized the country’s provinces to impose lockdowns wherever necessary to stem any rise in coronavirus cases. 

“We are forced to intensify regulations and supervisions, starting in the capital Tehran,” Rouhani said.

He said coronavirus task-force offices around the country would make recommendations on restrictions and whether to impose one-week lockdowns.

Measures could include “restrictions or shutdowns” of schools, universities, seminaries, mosques, cafeterias, sports and cultural venues, hair salons.

“If provincial governors deem it necessary, these centers will have to close for a week,” Rouhani said.

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 172 on Saturday to 25,394, and identified cases by 3,204 to 443,086, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said. 

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