A few days after official announcement of COVID-19, a campaign began under Javad Zarif’s, Islamic Republic Foreign Minister, supervision. The campaign intended to pressure US President and his administration to ease the “maximum pressure” and allow the regime to access its blocked funds excusing COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The campaign is well funded and if we look at who has been promoting it, it will lead us to certain people and social media accounts but that’s not the subject of this article.
The regime and its puppets around the world claim the US sanctions have impeded the country’s attempt to combat the Coronavirus epidemic which has reportedly killed more than 18,000 Iranians. Aside from the sanctions relief demands, Zarif announced their application to IMF for $5billion. President Trump, Mike Pompeo, Brian Hook, and Morgan Ortagus have each said it several times on different occasions that humanitarian aids, drugs and medical supplies have never been, are or will be sanctioned. The last nail was on April 6, when State Department issued a statement calling Iran efforts to get sanctions relief as a scam and giving many reasons as to why. And despite the Central Bank of Iran saying their application in IMF is still open and ongoing, US officials say they are prepared to block it.
Inspite of all that, Islamic Republic regime is not backing down and nor are its proxies and propaganda machine, repeating the same thetoric. They know if the current situation goes on for a little longer, they would bite the dust. They are doing everything they can, including threatening the world and specifically US to lift sanctions. The same path North Korea took, but this time the world powers have learned their lesson and all agree on one thing: Islamic Republic regime can’t reach nuclear weapon!
1- The oldest and most effective threat the regime uses is its nuclear program which instigated the whole sanction debacle in the first place. The modernization of the nuclear facilities and equipment has never stopped, even under the “maximum pressure” and COVID-19 outbreak when the regime is panhandling for more money. The money is used for their nuclear ambitions and military/missiles programs. According to IAEA the regime has enough enriched uranium to build a bomb!
On April 8, the Spokesperson for Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said, “Due to Coronavirus, we couldn’t showcase our 122 nuclear achievements, including impellers used at submarines and ships. We have no technological limits in developing what we need. We manufacture 60 advanced centrifuges daily. Currently we can produce 250,000 SWU (Separative Work Unit) but our goal is 1,000,000 SWU.” He added, “We have produced 42 deuterated isotopes in addition to our previous products making a total of 150 deuterated materials and even exporting them. The second phase of Boushehr nuclear power plant is under construction and 1/3 of it is done. It will be ready by 2025.” Even before COVID-19, in June 2018, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of AEOI, had said, “We have built the necessary developments for 1,000,000 SWU in Natanz Enrichment Plant.”
EU has always followed diplomacy to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapon and it has never worked. Even under extreme pressure and its citizens dying of COVID-19 outbreak, the regime doesn’t divert from its goal, nuclear weapon!
2- Coronavirus has become the newest weapon at regime’s disposal. Whether they brought and spread it intentionally is not at the scope of this article, but it has become a powerful bargaining chip for the regime, killing opposition members in prisons and threatening US with spreading it to other countries! Moscow is helping the regime in this front. Russia’s permanent representative in international organizations in Vienna tweeted this, warning US to be worried about its troops!
Zarif, the mastermind behind the foreign forces pressuring US, has tweeted and spoke about the “illegal sanctions” and “economic terrorism” of US many many times. But this one stands out, talking about”killing innocents”.
And this one from Hesameddin Ashena, advisor to President Rouhani, warning Trump that spreading COVID-19 in Iran equals spreading in the US.
3- The regime-backed militias in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Yemen carry on their usual attacks against US and coalition forces. Regardless of economic condition in the country, depriving Iranians from welfare and following Khamenei’s ideology, regime officials have kept their proxies well fed. After COVID-19 outbreak, on March 12, General McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, said, “This will make them more dangerous rather than less dangerous.”
On April 9, two new militias issued statements. Ashab al-Kahf claiming responsibility for attacking US convoy carrying military equipment.
And Qabzat al-Huda threatened US and UK ambassadors giving them 48 hours to leave Iraq. The statement reads: “U.S. forces are planning to launch an attack against the blessed Islamic resistance. To the U.S. & British ambassadors in Baghdad, if they don’t leave Iraq within 48 hours, you’ll receive their dead bodies from Iraq, we’ve warned you.”
On the same day, Khamenei had a speech aired on state-owned TV in celebration of “Shia’s Messiah” birthday. He said, “Coronavirus should not make us forget the cruelty of world powers against nations in the world, such as Palestinians and Yemenis. We should also not neglect the enemy’s conspiracy and animosity. Despite what some may say that if we don’t feud with them, they won’t, their problem is with the pillars of Islamic Republic.”
Islamic Republic is struggling. They’re afraid of another widespread uprising like what happened in November 2019, and the officials know they wouldn’t be able to curtail anything like that ever again!
Cover: Donald Giannatti