Iran hits out at US as virus death toll passes 3,000
Iran's Azadi (Freedom) Tower is lit up with flags and messages of hope in solidarity with all the countries affected by the COVID-19, in Tehran. AFP
Iran's death toll from the coronavirus has passed 3,000, the health ministry said on Wednesday, as President Hassan Rouhani accused Washington of missing a "historic opportunity" to lift sanctions.
Tensions between the arch-foes have soared since President Donald Trump abandoned a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions.
Tehran has repeatedly called on Washington to reverse its policy, which has been opposed by US allies, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the coronavirus death toll in Iran now stood at 3,036 following 138 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.
He added that 2,987 new cases had been confirmed, bringing the total to 47,593, with 15,473 of those hospitalised having recovered and been discharged.
"This was the best, historic opportunity for the Americans to reverse their wrong path and for once, tell their nation they are not against the Iranian people," Rouhani said in televised comments at a cabinet meeting.
They "did not learn their lesson even during this difficult global situation," he said.
"This was a humanitarian issue. No one would have blamed them for retreating."
Medicines and medical equipment are technically exempt from the US sanctions but purchases are frequently blocked by the unwillingness of banks to process purchases for fear of incurring large penalties in the United States.
Countries including Azerbaijan, Britain, China, France, Germany, Japan, Qatar, Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have all sent shipments of medical aid to Iran.
European nations have also delivered medical goods to Iran in the first transaction under the Instex financing mechanism set up to get round US sanctions, Germany said on Tuesday.
It is more than a year since Britain, France and Germany announced the creation of Instex, a delay that has prompted Iran to question European governments' commitment to seeing it through in defiance of the Trump administration.