Wednesday, July 17th | 11 Tammuz 5784

March 29, 2020 9:05 pm

Pompeo Tweets Video of Iran’s Rouhani Saying Efforts to Lift Sanctions Due to Coronavirus Actually Intended to Enrich Regime

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a news conference in the Press Briefing Room at the State Department in Washington, DC, Jan. 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Tom Brenner.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted a video over the weekend showing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying that the purpose of Iran’s public relations campaign to end US sanctions due to the coronavirus pandemic is really about enriching the regime.

“Startling revelation by #Iran’s President @HassanRouhani that the regime’s concerted effort to lift U.S. sanctions isn’t about fighting the pandemic. It’s about cash for the regime’s leaders,” Pompeo said on Twitter.

The video shows Rouhani speaking to a group of officials wearing medical masks.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated a concerted effort to influence public opinion and say ‘no’ to sanctions,” Rouhani says, according to the translation.

“Our efforts are aimed at bringing back our money seized in other countries,” he states.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on March 23 that Pompeo revealed that Iranian officials have stolen more than a billion euros in funds intended to help fight coronavirus.

“Regime officials stole over a billion euros intended for medical supplies,” Pompeo said, adding that officials also “continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and other medical equipment for sale on the black market.”

Iran has indeed been involved in an “effort to influence public opinion” to end sanctions.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a notably overwrought tweet replete with all caps, saying, “US has gone from sabotage & assassinations to waging an economic war & #EconomicTerrorism on Iranians — to #MedicalTerror amidst #covid19iran.”

“This even exceeds what would be permissible on the battlefield,” he said.

“STOP aiding WAR CRIMES. STOP obeying IMMORAL & ILLEGAL US sanctions,” he wrote.

Iran’s public relations efforts are having an effect on left-wing politicians in the United States. Democrats in Congress have sent several letters to Pompeo and other officials demanding waivers and other measures to ease sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Foreign Policy reported that one letter referring to both Iran and Venezuela read, “By allowing our sanctions to contribute to the exceptional pain and suffering brought about by the coronavirus outbreaks in both nations, we play into the anti-Americanism that is at the heart of both regimes’ hold on power.”

Senator Bernie Sanders and far-left congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also sent a letter demanding a temporary suspension of all sanctions.

Iran has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus. Reuters reported Sunday that 2,640 Iranians have died of the virus so far, and 38,309 are infected.

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