Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on March 23 said that the United States should lift sanctions if it wants to help Tehran contain the coronavirus outbreak. Rouhani during a televised speech rejected the humanitarian assistance offered by Washington saying that if they really want to help Iran all they need to do is to lift sanctions. Iran is the worst-hit country in the Middle East, where, as of March 23, more than 1,800 people have lost their lives due to coronavirus.
Iran has blamed the United States for hampering its efforts to tackle the outbreak in the country and urged American citizens to call on their government to lift sanctions. The economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States are choking off its oil revenues and have stopped its banking transactions. On the other hand, the coronavirus outbreak has forced the country to take draconian measures like lockdown of public places and businesses, which is pushing the country's economy further into the swamp.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been running high since 2018 when the US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, also known as JCPOA. However, the tensions escalated to an all-time high, when the Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq that houses the US and NATO forces were hit by multiple rockets during the wee hours of January 8. The incident was first reported by Iranian state TV, who described it as Tehran’s revenge operation over the killing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was killed by US air raid near Baghdad's international airport on January 3, along with six others. The White House and the Pentagon confirmed the death of Iran's powerful military head by saying that the attack was directed by US President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 has claimed more than 16,500 lives across the world and has infected nearly 3,81,000 people globally since it first broke out in December 2019. China is the most affected country in the world as experts believe that the virus originated from a seafood market in Wuhan city, the epicentre of the disease, where animals were reportedly being traded illegally. Italy, Iran, and Spain are the most affected countries outside mainland China, where, as of March 22 the combined death toll stands at 10,200.