Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has conceded that his country is experiencing severe hardship due to US sanctions that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. “It’s been the most difficult year due to the enemy’s economic pressure and the pandemic,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday. US President Donald Trump 25 months ago withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed crippling financial penalties on the Islamic Republic. Tehran was also the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Middle East, which prompted other regional countries to quickly cut off business and social interactions with Iranians. Over the past six weeks, Iran has seen a sharp rise in infections and deaths, with the latter tally recently topping 100 in a 24-hour period for the first time since April. Overall, Tehran has reported some 225,000 cases of COVID-19, although many have accused authorities of understating the figure. In his address, Rouhani announced that beginning next week the public would be required to wear masks in “gathering places” designated as “red spots.” Earlier this week, the Iranian rial plummeted to its lowest-ever value against the US dollar.