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Iran Regime Launches Campaign to Exploit Coronavirus Crisis to Defuse Sanctions 

Relatives mourn over the grave of former politburo official in the Revolutionary Guard Farzad Tazari, who died after being infected with the new coronavirus, at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Mahmood Hosseini/Tasnim News Agency via AP)

The Iranian regime is trying to exploit the coronavirus catastrophe, which has left 11,900 dead in Iran, to defuse U.S. and international sanctions.

The regime’s officials, who downplay the number of fatalities to about one-fifth of the true figure, follow a carefully orchestrated campaign to this end.

First, Iran’s Central Bank director asked for a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, ostensibly to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Then on March 12, The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, wrote a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asking for international sanctions to be lifted. He claimed that “the sanctions were not only crippling the country’s oil industry but making it incredibly difficult for Iran to get the necessary medical supplies needed to combat the epidemic.

“To this end, the UN and its member states must join the Iranian people in demanding that the government of the United States abandon its malign and fruitless approach against Iran,” Zarif wrote. Knowing that the precarious situation with the rapid spread of the virus in Iran had made the world community sensitive towards the country, he aimed to politicize the issue of humanitarian support for the people of Iran and use it to lift the crippling sanctions on his regime.

The Iranian ambassador to the UK said a petition signed by 12824 nationals and residents of UK calling for “suspension of sanctions against Iran during the Coronavirus pandemic” was going to be sent to British MPs and Government to ask for help to lift the sanctions.

A prominent conservative strategist in Iran recommended that Iranians, especially those residing in the US, sue the US administration for the damage done to them through the sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said this week that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was busy mobilizing the world public opinion, especially in the UN security council, to make the latter adopt a resolution to waive all sanctions during the time Coronavirus was still around!

Two Iranian apologists wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times that unless sanctions were lifted to help the Iranian regime curb the virus spread, the country could become a center to spread infection throughout the world!

Whereas the real aim of this campaign is not to help the Iranian population engulfed in a ruthless war against the epidemic, but instead remove obstacles in the way of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)’s plans for acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

The latest events in Iran prove clearly that the regime has no intention nor plans to help the fight against Coronavirus.

On Monday, Iran sent back a field hospital for 48 patients and a full team of physicians belonging to the French NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres from Iran. They had just arrived to help Coronavirus patients. The regime’s health ministry announced that they had enough hospital beds and so 48 supplementary beds were not needed.

Visiting Iraq last week, Iran’s National Security Council’s secretary Ali Shamkhani took with himself as a special gift to the Iran-backed Shiite militias: two million masks much needed in Iran itself by the population to prevent virus spread. The same militia formed by the IRGC in Iraq was responsible for the recent deadly rocket attack in Baghdad that killed three coalition forces’ personnel.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that the country had enough hospital beds to face the crisis. He claimed that in Mashad, a big city north-east of the country, 60% of hospital beds, as well as 30% of ICU beds, were unoccupied. He emphasized that in most cities and regions, they disposed of more than necessary beds in ICU sections and hospitals.

The regime in power itself is very much responsible for the current situation. It covered up the existence of the virus in Iran until February 19. In contrast, no later than December 31, 2019, a report on infection cases in the city of Qom was sent to the government by a former health minister. Still, the regime hid the whole thing to be able to mobilize crowds for the February 11 ceremonies of the anniversary of the anti-monarchic revolution, and for the parliament election of February 21.

Mike Pompeo said on Monday that more than $1 billion in cash for medical supplies to go to the Iranian people was pocketed by the regime’s leaders who are now using it to protect themselves from the virus as it spreads throughout the population. There were considerable hoarding of medical supplies meant to aid Iranian citizens.

Mr. Pompeo said part of the reason Iran has become a hotspot for the Coronavirus is that the regime refuses to stop flights between Tehran and China. Iran’s Mahan Air—which is designated as a terrorist entity by the United States for its regular shipments of weapons and fighters across the Middle East—ran at least 55 flights between Tehran and China after most countries had enacted a travel ban. The regime threatened and imprisoned dozens of Iranians who told the truth about the Corona outbreak.

Regarding funds’ availability, according to Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the Foreign affairs committee of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), four institutions control 60 percent of Iran’s national wealth. These are the Headquarters to Execute Imam’s Order, Khatam al-Anbiya Garrison, Astan-e Quds, and Martyrs and Mostaz’afan foundations.

“All of them are under the total control of the regime’s leader, Ali Khamenei. Those foundations’ assets and capital is estimated to be over $100 billion alone,” Mr. Mohaddessin said in a webinar this afternoon with press representatives.

“The National Development Fund is under the total and sole control of Khamenei. While there are several estimates on its holdings, it reportedly has dozens of billions of reserves.”