Analyst: Trump’s Offer Hypocritical, Iran Continues to Battle Coronavirus
By Nour Rida - Tehran
Harsh US sanctions continue to be imposed on Iran despite the World Health Organization declaring that Coronavirus is a pandemic. Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic has proved to be resilient in face of challenges, and has ongoing attempts to find a cure for the COVID-19 virus sweeping across the globe.
On March 1, it was revealed that a major IRGC Iranian research center was developing drugs as well as a vaccine for Coronavirus to boost the government’s efforts to battle the outbreak. Chancellor of the Baqiyatallah Medical Sciences University [BMSU] said three research teams at the academic center were working on treatments for Coronavirus, adding that one of the groups had already come up with a drug that could be used to cure the illness.
Also on March 11, a ceremony in Tehran featured unveiling of a first model of a domestically-manufactured thermal imaging camera, produced by Iran, an electronics company run by the Defense Ministry. The infra-red device was comparable to foreign products when it comes to precision in diagnosing fever, the company said, while the authorities attending the ceremony said the camera would enter the mass-production stage in near future.
The next day, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei has issued an edict to Iran's top general, emphasizing the need for the establishment of a “health and treatment base” to prevent further spread of an ongoing Coronavirus epidemic in the country.
According to activist and political analyst Setareh Sadeghi, “this is a chance for Iran to develop its own needs and to develop a solution to its problem like always.”
Iran is well known for being able to be self-sufficient despite sanctions and pressure. The World Health Organization hailed Iran for its performance in dealing with the epidemic. WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Richard Bernan lauded Iran’s preventive measures to fight against Corona virus, and called on the regional states to use the country’s experience in its nationwide campaign against the epidemic.
However, at the time when people are dying of Coronavirus as it spreads very fast there are things that Iran urgently needs and there is no enough time to develop the needs or medicine.
“I think sanctions have made it very difficult for medical supplies to reach ordinary Iranians and it is not only during the COVID-19 phase even before. But now, since the Coronavirus is a pandemic it is affecting a large population of Iranians and its clearer with the current situation how the sanctions are affecting the health sector,” noted The University of Tehran Phd candidate in American studies.
The commentator went on to say “For example, I know that for patients with cancer, many of the medicines needed have become very scarce and almost impossible to find. When you do find a medicine it is very expensive due to the dramatic increase in prices. The same is true with the Coronavirus because many of the patients with COVID-19 have a background of medical needs and diseases and that is why it has even become difficult for them to fight the disease otherwise there are many people who are recovering from it.”
Dual standards and contradictions are crystal clear in the American rhetoric towards Iran. As Iran urged lifting unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed by the United States on the country, which have greatly hampered the Islamic Republic’s fight against the new Coronavirus pandemic, Trump’s administration totally neglected that.
On Sunday Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif in a tweet said the US President Donald Trump is "maliciously tightening US illegal sanctions with aim of draining Iran's resources needed in the fight against COVID19—while our citizens are dying from it".
All Trump did was repeat an offer made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo On February 28, when he claimed that the United States has offered to help with the Coronavirus response in Iran. Trump allegedly said he was ready to help Iran with its outbreak of novel Coronavirus if the country asked for assistance. Alongside Trump’s proposal, Britain, France and Germany offered Iran a package of material and financial support to combat the rapid spread of Coronavirus on March 3 and pledged 5 million euros in aid.
On this note, the analyst assured that “Trump’s offer of help is very ridiculous and I am happy Iran turned it down. If the US was genuine in wanting to offer help to Iran they could have at least lifted sanctions off medical supplies and food or at least financial transfer for medical supplies.”
Iranian officials have turned down the offer, calling it a "political-psychological game" and even accused the United States of having launched a "bio-terror attack" against Iran which caused the Coronavirus outbreak.
Sadeghi also believed that “Trump’s offer is so fake and dishonest and the Iranians do not accept it. If the US can find a way to send us a package to aid with the Coronavirus, why not lift the sanctions? I do not understand how you can impose sanctions on medical supplies of a nation and then at the same time offer to send them medical aid or help. This is so hypocritical and any common sense would absolutely reject such an offer.”
Banning banking and financial transfers also constitute a problem. Sadeghi underscored that “Medical supplies have also become very difficult for Iran to purchase from other countries because of the sanctions and this includes also financial transfers. So Iran would buy its medical equipment and supplies from other countries but because of the financial transactions and transfer have become almost impossible for Iranians.”
She added “It is very cruel at this time when the world is trying to fight the Coronavirus, Iranians have to struggle with increasing difficulties due to the sanctions; Iranian hospitals suffer from shortage of equipment and medicine and cannot get it from anywhere due to the transfer limitations.”
In February, a new Swiss payment mechanism known as Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement to allow food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to be sent to Iran without stumbling over US sanctions officially took effect with but on Wednesday Mousavi said the US sanctions have "practically blocked the way and have not let Iran's financial resources in other countries enter Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement".