IRAN’S President Hassan Rouhani says that outgoing US president, Donald Trump, registered state terrorism on America’s official record by openly accepting responsibility for the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Soleimani in a third country.
‘We had never before seen a US president explicitly announcing that he had assassinated a senior military commander who was a guest in a third country,’ Rouhani told a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.
‘With what this stupid terrorist did, “state terrorism” was inscribed on the forehead of the United States. Today is the end of the political life of the individual who violated international law and US obligations for four years,’ Rouhani added.
General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Units, were assassinated along with their companions in a US terror drone strike near Baghdad International Airport on January 3rd 2020.
Both commanders were highly popular because of the key role they played in eliminating the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
The cowardly assassination operation was carried out under the direction of Trump, whose term ended on Wednesday. Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th US president later on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in his comments, Rouhani said Iran expects those taking office in the US to return to the rule of law and work to erase all ‘the black stains’ recorded in US history over the past four years.
‘If they (American statesmen) sincerely return to the law and show their honesty in practice, we will also fulfil our own commitments,’ he said.
In 2015, Iran and six world states – the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China – signed the Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
However, Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the nuclear deal. The Trump administration also launched the so-called maximum pressure campaign and targeted the Iranian nation with the ‘toughest ever’ restrictive measures.
As the remaining European parties failed to fulfil their end of the bargain under US pressure, Iran moved in May 2019 to scale back its JCPOA commitments under Articles 26 and 36 of the accord covering Tehran’s legal rights. Now Biden has pledged to rejoin the accord, which was inked when he was vice president, if the Islamic Republic returns to compliance.
The Iranian chief executive said: ‘It has become evident to our nation and the whole world that the policy of economic terrorism and maximum pressure has failed 100 per cent. Of course, the Iranian people suffered under the pressure and economic war, but they endured the hardships and, through resistance, did not allow the enemies’ goals to be realised.
‘Today, the ball is in Washington’s court. If they honour their commitments, so will we,’ he added. ‘Trump is gone but the JCPOA is alive. All the attempts of American extremists, regional reactionaries and the Zionists were for the JCPOA to die, but today the JCPOA is alive. Trump and his dark record are history, but the JCPOA is still alive.’
Rouhani further said Trump’s legacy is America’s isolation, and that the United States is standing alone in international organisations regarding the issues of Palestine and the JCPOA, among others.
Meanwhile, Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations has strongly condemned the arrest of US-based Iranian political scientist and author Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi by FBI agents on baseless charges, saying the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump is notorious for its anti-Iran bias.
‘It is unfortunate to hear of the arrest of Dr. Afrasiabi on spurious charges, in the waning hours of the Trump administration, which is well-known for its anti-Iranian bigotry and bias,’ Alireza Miryousefi, the mission’s spokesman, said.
The Justice Department said on Tuesday that Afrasiabi, who has been a lawful resident of the United States for more than 35 years and who received his education in the US, was arrested at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts the previous day on trumped-up charges of acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Tehran.
US Assistant Attorney General John Demers alleged Afrasiabi ‘was actually a secret employee of the government of Iran and the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations’ in New York City since at least 2007.
However, Miryousefi added: ‘Dr Afrasiabi has not been working as an agent of the Mission and only as a university professor, and an expert on international relations.’ He added that 63-year-old Afrasiabi ‘has provided consultations to the Mission on international issues and his working relationship with us has been open and fully transparent since the beginning’.
Dr Afrasiabi, an Iranian-American political scientist, said he believed outgoing US President Donald Trump was desperately trying to trigger a war with Iran.
US authorities further claimed that he worked to influence public opinion in the US on behalf of Iran in news articles and appearances with US news media.
They said he also lobbied a US congressman and the State Department to adopt policies favourable to Tehran, and counselled Iranian diplomats concerning US foreign policy.
Afrasiabi made an initial appearance in a federal court in Boston last Tuesday. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted of charges.
- A coronavirus vaccine project being jointly pursued by Iran and Cuba has entered phase II of its clinical trials, with no side effects having been reported so far. Cuba and Iran signed an agreement earlier this month to cooperate in the coronavirus vaccine project with the use of a technology that will be transferred to Iran by Havana.
The vaccine, known as Subrana 2, is now undergoing its human phase trials by the Cuban Finlay Institute and the Pasteur Institute of Iran.
The vaccine, which is the most advanced one among Cuba’s four other coronavirus vaccines, has so far shown no side effects, as the initial stages of its testing have been completed successfully. Iran also launched human trials of its first domestic coronavirus vaccine late last month.
Iran begins the first phase in the human trial of the homegrown Covid-19 vaccine after completing initial steps and obtaining necessary approvals. The vaccine, known as COViran Barekat, is being produced under the health protocols and guidelines announced by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education.
Mohammad Mokhber, the director of the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Khomeini, which is developing the vaccine, said on Monday that the third stage of the trials would see the injection of the vaccine to 56 volunteers.
The homegrown vaccine, Mokhber said, has been tested on volunteers in previous stages successfully without causing any side effects.
‘We are trying to increase the production volume of the vaccine to up to three million doses per month in the next month,’ he said. Iran will reach the production of 14 million doses of the vaccine within the next four months with the continuation of this trend, according to Mokhber.
This comes as Iran is under illegal sanctions imposed by the United States, which have hampered its access to medical equipment and pharmaceuticals and have complicated the process of importing vaccines from other countries.
A second domestic vaccine has also been approved by both the Iranian Food and Drug Administration and the Iranian National Committee for Ethics in Biomedical Research.
If it passes the first phase successfully, the acceptable dose of the vaccine will be determined, and based on the results of phase I, the second phase will begin with 500 people, according to the proposed protocol by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute.
The National Committee for Ethics in Biomedical Research and the senior experts will supervise the project in all stages of the trial. One and a half million doses of Iran’s homegrown vaccine will be produced in 40 days, says an official.
Some 12 companies have so far applied to produce the vaccine, according to Kianoush Jahanpour, the head of the Information Centre of the Ministry of Health.
Earlier this month, the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) cancelled the import of 150,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei banned the purchases of vaccines produced by the US and Britain.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that his government was doing its best to roll out mass vaccination in two months, with the priority given to medical staff and high-risk individuals.
Health officials on Wednesday confirmed 6,182 new cases of Covid-19 infection in the past 24 hours in Iran, bringing the total caseload to 1,348,316.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima-Sadat Lari said that 1,137,812 patients had so far recovered, but 4,214 remained in a critical condition.
She also reported a daily death toll of 84.