The White House has not backed off it's 'maximum pressure' campaign on Iran even as the Islamic Republic's Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to soar, approaching 25,000 confirmed cases Tuesday.
Despite even close US ally Britain quietly signalling it's had enough of Washington's ill-timed pressures, Secretary of State Pompeo has upped the ante further, on Monday accusing the Iranian regime of everything from hoarding masks and equipment to intentionally spreading the deadly disease to at least five countries.
But it appears Europe has finally begun to shirk US demands. On Monday EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell announced 20 million euros in new aid to Iran, and more crucially said the body will support Tehran's request for IMF assistance.
"We’ve not been able to provide a lot of humanitarian help but there is some 20 million euros in the pipeline ... that we expect to be delivered over the next weeks," Borrell said in a video news conference Monday.
“We also agree in supporting the request by Iran and also by Venezuela to the International Monetary Fund to have financial support,” he said further but without disclosing details.
European officials consider the situation as urgent and see the US pressure campaign as greatly exacerbating the death toll given Iran lacks much of the basic medicines and equipment to treat at-risk patients and mitigate the outbreak. Recently Iranian health officials said shockingly that one person is dying from the virus every 10 minutes.
The pressure for some kind of dramatic blanket easing of US sanctions is only set to grow, given that last week Iran's leaders for the first time in a half-century turned to the IMF. Bloomberg reported of the urgent IMF appeal:
Iranians say that their economy is weak and unable to cope with the humanitarian toll because of the U.S. sanctions. Last week, Iran turned to the International Monetary Fund for the first time since the 1960s for aid, though Ali Vaez, the Crisis Group’s Iran project director, said the U.S. may try to block the IMF loan in order to keep up the pressure on the regime.
No doubt this will unleash fury out of Pompeo's office, but at such a crucial juncture with the whole world's eyes on combating the coronavirus pandemic, Washington will continue to shed allies by keeping up the so-called 'maximum pressure'.
Iran's leaders have said that without immediate assistance possibly "millions" will die inside the country, while further blaming Trump and Pompeo's policies for increasing the death toll.