Iran Blasts US Offer To Help Fight Coronavirus As "Political-Psychological Game"

Washington momentarily put aside the fact that it's essentially at war with Iran and in a very rare moment actually offered to "help" Iran combat the rapidly spreading and deadly coronavirus according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday.

“We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help, and we’ve made it clear to others around the world and in the region that assistance, humanitarian assistance to push back against the coronavirus in Iran is something the United States of America fully supports,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo clarified after the hearing to reporters that the offer of support was made "to the Iranian people" and "formally conveyed to Iran through the government of Switzerland," The Hill reported.

Despite Iran's official death toll now standing at multiple dozens, rising to 43 as of Saturday morning, with a total number of infected at 593 (though the true numbers of infected are believed to be in the thousands or possibly tens of thousands), the Islamic Republic's leaders promptly mocked Pompeo's claim to have extended a hand of "support". 

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousav on Friday slammed America's offer as “ridiculous,” according to the Mehr news agency.

“The claim to help Iran in dealing with corona from a country who with their economic terrorism has created widespread pressure for the people of Iran and even closed the paths for buying medicine and medical equipment, is a ridiculous claim and a political-psychological game,” Mousavi said.

Meanwhile, a number of reports have analyzed the impact of US sanctions on Iran's coronavirus crisis - the hardest hit country outside of China - and concluded the US administration's punitive attempt to devastate the Iranian economy is a contributing factor to Covid-19's rapid spread there. The National Interest reported that the White House has responded to this criticism by opening up humanitarian avenues. 

Image source: AP

"The Trump administration is partially reversing course on economic sanctions that have slowed down Iran from importing coronavirus test kits as the country faces down the most deadly COVID-19 outbreak outside of East Asia," according to the report.

Iranian leaders have blamed Washington for the worsening crisis, given the limited ability to import virus testing kits and equipment and medicines. 

"The U.S. Treasury announced on Thursday morning that it was lifting some terrorism-related sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, which re-opens a channel for humanitarian trade that had been closed since September 2019," The National Interest said further.