Iran accuses US of spreading coronavirus

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BY AARTI TIKOO SINGH
New Delhi/Tehran, March 22 (IANS)
The Supreme religious leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday accused the US of spreading novel coronavirus, furthering the ongoing hostility between the two countries.
So far, over 1,500 people have died and around 21,000 infected in Iran by the deadly covid-19, which originated in Wuhan city of China. In the US, 348 people have been killed and over 26,000 tested positive for the virus.
On Sunday, Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ali Khamenei, tweeted, “The US government has declared a few times that they are ready to help Iran with medicines to fight the Corona outbreak.”
“That’s strange,” Khamenei remarked sarcastically. “First, based on the words of your own officials, you face shortages in the US. So use what you have for your own patients.”
“Second, you’re accused of having created coronavirus. I don’t know how true it is. But when there’s such an allegation, can a wise man trust you? You could be giving medicines that spread the virus or cause it to remain. Experience shows you can’t be trusted and you do such things.”
On Tuesday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had blamed China and the Iranian regime for the “Wuhan virus” and called Tehran an accomplice of Beijing. “Instead of focusing on the needs of the Iranian people and accepting genuine offers of support, senior Iranians lied about the Wuhan virus outbreak for weeks,” Pompeo had said.
Three days later, the Trump administration imposed new rounds of sanctions against Iran, amid growing calls for lifting economic pressure on the Islamic republic. The US, however, said humanitarian assistance to Iran was wide open and not sanctioned.
“We are doing everything we can to facilitate the humanitarian assistance moving in and to make sure that the financial transactions connected to that can take place as well. There is no sanction on medicines going to Iran, there is no sanctions on humanitarian assistance going into that country. They’ve got a terrible problem there and we want that humanitarian, medical assistance to get to the people of Iran,” Pompeo on Friday said.
The Iranian government has imported over 170 million masks from abroad and sought $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to fight the pandemic.