Iran Trying to Use Pandemic to Dishonestly Shame the U.S. into Lifting Sanctions

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There’s no doubt that the sanctions regime placed on Iran is working. The economy is in a slow-motion meltdown, made worse by a corrupt leadership that robs its own people.

The government’s response to the coronavirus has been catastrophically bad. Breitbart lists a few of the problems.

The deadliest outbreak after the coronavirus escaped from China occurred in Iran, where several dismal vectors combined to create a  public health nightmare, including a lack of official transparency as great as China’s, social customs involving close physical contact, heavy traffic into crowded religious sites, religious authorities giving  bad advice and incredibly dangerous orders to their followers, an election that should have been canceled, and the regime’s preference for spending money on weapons and sponsoring foreign terrorism instead of medicine and social services.

Iranian government data on the coronavirus outbreak is so obviously false that no one really pretends to believe it, including local Iranian officials. Official pronouncements vacillate wildly between treating the epidemic like a mild inconvenience or a dire threat.

Yes, but surely the U.S. should help the Iranian people in this crisis. It’s not their fault they have incompetent fanatics as leaders. We should lift the sanctions immediately and offer our aid to get them out of this mess.

Except there are no sanctions that are inhibiting Iran from dealing with the pandemic. And we already offered to help and were haughtily dismissed.

Fox News:

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, in an open letter, urged Americans to call on their government to end the “dark chapter” of sanctions against his country as it fights the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. imposed new sanctions on Iran last week, blacklisting five international companies from doing business with the country, Reuters reported.

“Our policy of maximum pressure on the regime continues,” Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iranian affairs, told reporters, according to Reuters. “U.S. sanctions are not preventing aid from getting to Iran.”

Rouhani pleaded with other world leaders to ignore the sanctions, saying they have “hampered” Iran’s response.

Rouhani also wrote to a number of world leaders last week, asking them to ignore U.S. sanctions that have “hampered” Iran’s response to coronavirus, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who claimed the sanctions show “utter contempt for human life.”

While there are no sanctions that are directly hindering Iran’s ability to fight COVID-19, sanctions on the country’s financial industry are preventing them from acquiring hard currency — specifically, dollars. Iran was using that cash to buy weapons and technology from the West, as well as Russia, China, and North Korea.

I don’t hear Rouhani promising to use all the cash that Iran is able to get if sanctions are lifted specifically for pandemic relief. In fact, the very first beneficiary from lifting the sanctions would be Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. They’ve been crippled by sanctions and the death of one of their leaders, Qassem Soleimani. They would be very pleased if sanctions were lifted for “humanitarian” reasons.

Iran can’t be trusted. They see themselves at war with the U.S. and the West and can’t be believed if they say they will use sanctions relief only to fight the virus. Their “care” for the Iranian people extends only so far as they can be used as pawns in their war on the West.

“Maximum pressure” is working and has nothing to do with the Iranian government’s ability to fight the pandemic.

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