Coronavirus ‘historic opportunity’ for US to ‘apologize’ for Iran sanctions: Rouhani

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The coronavirus pandemic was a “historic opportunity” for the US to “apologize” for its sanctions against Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, the Americans have not learned much in these tough global conditions, because this was a good time to apologize for their wrongdoing and a historic opportunity to say for once that they are not against the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting.

The Iranian foreign ministry recently launched a campaign calling for US sanctions against the Islamic Republic to be lifted amid the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the sanctions hinder Iran’s access to medicine and medical supplies.

Read more: Coronavirus: Iran and allies call for the US to waive sanctions

Some Iranian officials, including Health Minister Saeed Namaki, have disputed the claims that US sanctions hamper Iran’s efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“Although it is difficult to combat coronavirus under sanctions, we have not had any shortages in the medicine required to treat coronavirus patients since the start of the outbreak,” Namaki was quoted as saying on Monday by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami have said that Iran does not need – and will not accept – any US help to combat coronavirus.

Pointing to the regime’s efforts to have US sanctions lifted, while insisting on refusing any US help, some Iranian activists have accused the Islamic Republic of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to lobby for all sanctions against the country to be lifted.

Read more: US could rethink Iran sanctions in light of coronavirus pandemic: Pompeo

Friction between Tehran and Washington has increased since 2018 when US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal originally signed by six nations. Sanctions were re-imposed upon the US’s withdrawal, which has had crippling effects on Iran’s economy.

Washington wants to force Iran to negotiate a broader deal that includes its nuclear activities, ballistic missile program, and regional influence.

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