Tehran, March 8 (IANS) Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lashed out at US President Donald Trump for tightening “illegal” sanctions against Tehran, saying such a move was aimed at draining the Islamic Republic’s resources required in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

“@realDonaldTrump is maliciously tightening US’ illegal sanctions with aim of draining Iran’s resources needed in the fight against #COVID19-while our citizens are dying from it,” Press TV quoted Zarif as saying in a tweet on Saturday.

He added that the world can no longer keep silent as US’ economic terrorism is “supplanted by its medical terrorism”.

Iran is currently battling one of the world’s deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus outside China, where it originated.

The head of the Iranian Health Ministry’s Public Relations and Information Center, Kianoush Jahanpour, reported 21 new deaths from the coronavirus and 1,076 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall tolls to 145 dead and 5,823 infected.

“More than 16,000 people are currently hospitalized as suspect cases,” Jahanpour said on Saturday.

Also taking to Twitter on Saturday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi denounced the US for “senseless accusations” against Iran, which is struggling to “shield humanity against COVID-19 pandemic”, reports Press TV.

Mousavi questioned the US handling of the coronavirus outbreak by releasing a video showing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo facing questions from a lawmaker about the administration’s response to the coronavirus threat in a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Last week, President Hassan Rouhani rejected Washington’s offer of help to Iran in the fight against theepidemic, saying Washington should first lift its sanctions on medical supplies if it really seeks to help the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani’s remark came after Trump said that the US was willing to help the Iranians with the problem, adding that “all they have to do is ask”.

Pompeo had also claimed that the Islamic Republic did not have a solid healthcare infrastructure and that the US had offered to help it with the coronavirus response.

–IANS

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