Pharmacists behind the counter in Sadaf pharmacy, February 20, 2020 in Tehran. Iranians facing shortages of medications because of US sanctions must now confront the coronavirus. (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)

Iranian Academic: US Sanctions ‘Weaponize’ Virus (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

Tehran University professor head says Iran has done an ‘acceptable’ job of managing coronavirus pandemic despite being hampered by ‘evil’ Trump Administration’s sanctions, Western acquiescence

Iran is one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the coronavirus. On Monday, Iran’s Health Ministry reported 127 new deaths, raising the death toll to at least 1,812, with infected people numbering 23,049. More than 7,635 people have recovered in Iran according to its Health Ministry.

According to official data, Iran is the fourth-worst hit country after Italy, China and Spain. Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour has described an uptick of 50 new cases per hour and a new death every 10 minutes.

Iranian opposition leaders have accused the government of hiding the truth about casualties. However, officials in Tehran deny the accusation.

COVID-19 is not only a health crisis but an economic one, as well, particularly for Iran, whose economy is already battered by American sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that the US should lift sanctions to help the country fight the coronavirus pandemic. Rouhani said that the country had no intention of accepting an offer by Washington of humanitarian assistance. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei flatly rejected the American offer of humanitarian assistance on Sunday.

Iranian officials have blasted Washington, calling its sanctions “criminal.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif released a video message in which he claimed that American sanctions are hampering Iran’s ability to fight the spread of coronavirus.

The Media Line interviewed Prof. Mohammad Marandi, head of the American Studies Department at Tehran University, on the topic. Here’s what he had to say.

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