The government of Iran has transmitted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to at least five countries, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday.
“Fact: In February, Iran’s chief terror airline, Mahan Air, ran at least 55 flights between Tehran and China, further infecting the Iranian people. At least five foreign countries’ first cases of coronavirus were directly imported from Iran, putting millions more lives at risk”, the statement said.
Pompeo also accused the Iranian government of lying about the real number of cases of COVID-19 infection and deaths in the country as well as of using scarce resources to finance terrorism.
“As Iranian regime officials ask for more funds, it is important to note that since 2012, Iran has spent over $16 billion on terror abroad, and used sanctions relief from the JCPOA to fill up its proxies’ coffers”, Pompeo said. “Regime officials stole over a billion Euros intended for medical supplies, and continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and other medical equipment for sale on the black market”.
Pompeo pointed out in the statement that US sanctions against Iran do not apply to imports of humanitarian goods.
“Iranian documents show their health companies have been able to import testing kits without obstacle from US sanctions since January”, Pompeo said. “The United States has offered over $100 million in medical assistance to foreign countries, including to the Iranian people, and our scientists are working tirelessly to develop a vaccine. Khamenei rejected this offer because he works tirelessly to concoct conspiracy theories and prioritises ideology over the Iranian people”.
In statements published last Monday, both Russia and China urged the United States to ease sanctions on Iran in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier in March, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said US sanctions against Iran have cost the Islamic Republic $200 billion over the last two years and are also hindering efforts to prevent deaths caused by COVID-19.
Last week, Pompeo announced new sanctions against three Iranian individuals connected with the country’s petrochemical industry. Pompeo reiterated that the United States will continue to fully enforce all its sanctions placed on Iran.