ran will only import coronavirus vaccines from countries whose products are certain to be safe, or use vaccines it produces itself, Major General Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), has said.
Speaking to a meeting on the pandemic in the southeastern province of Kerman on Sunday, Salami said:
‘Due to absolute distrust, we cannot trust the enemies and allow them to inject the vaccine solution into the bodies of our people, because (referring to the economic sanctions as the first plot to paralyse the country) we know that in the enemy’s strategy, paralysing the Iranian people is a definite goal.
‘Using biological weapons is an integral part of the enemy’s military approach.
‘Can the enemy be allowed to inject our people with a vaccine solution, which we don’t know what’s in it?’
The IRGC chief said the ongoing propaganda surrounding the coronavirus vaccine – which accuses Iran of refusing to import foreign vaccines – is part of the enemy’s psychological operations, ‘because they want to show that we are dependent, humiliated and in need of the enemy.
‘They are asking why Iran does not import vaccines from America but they ignore the fact that, even now, the Americans do not allow us to unfreeze our money to buy vaccines.
‘How are they going to justify this contradiction? We are having to work under these conditions.’
Major General Salami went on: ‘Our country is different from all other countries in the world, because while we are facing this mysterious and complex global disease … at the same time we are also facing the most severe and intensive global sanctions.
‘We cannot use our nation’s own money, which has been frozen in other countries’ banks by the US, to buy medicines, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical and medical articles,’ he said.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, pointed out that foreign providers of Covid vaccines reneged on their initial promises and refused sales to the country, but then changed course and started providing Iran with vaccines only after it successfully managed to produce its own jabs against the deadly virus.
Iran has been fighting back against one of the deadliest Covid-19 outbreaks in the world, with the harsh unilateral sanctions put in place by the US significantly hampering its efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
The sanctions were imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump under a ‘maximum pressure’ campaign and have been maintained by the current administration of Joe Biden, which has refused to soften the bans to ease pandemic-related hardship on Iranians.
Iranian officials have described the sanctions as ‘economic terrorism’ and ‘medical terrorism’ because of their deadly impact on ordinary people.
As early as March 2020, when Iran was fighting its first Covid-19 wave, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the international community to play its real role to stop the United States’ medical terrorism against Iran.
‘The global community must come to its senses and help Iran in order to stop the economic, medical and drug terrorism (by the US),’ Zarif wrote in an op-ed published by Russian business newspaper Kommersant on March 30, 2020.
So far, 102,038 people have lost their lives in Iran due to the coronavirus, with 684 deaths registered last 24 Sunday alone.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) says it has now delivered the 14th consignment of imported Covid-19 vaccines to the Health Ministry.
IRCS president Karim Hemmati reported that this latest imported consignment, containing 1.11 million doses, is the second in the past week.
‘With the import of the 14th vaccine consignment to the country, the Iranian Red Crescent Society has done its best to accelerate the process of public vaccination and this process continues,’ he added.
Hemmati also noted that the 14 consignments, which included a total number of 15.96 million vaccine doses, had been transferred to the country on 16 flights.
He gave assurances that the IRCS will stand by the Iranian people and the medical staff in the current difficult juncture and continue imports until they are all fully vaccinated.
In addition to producing domestic vaccines, the Islamic Republic has imported consignments from several foreign suppliers despite the illegal US sanctions that have seriously hampered the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Iran has so far administered more than 18 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Nearly four million people have so far received two shots.
According to the latest figures, 4,389,085 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Iran and 97,208 people have died.
- The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) says continuation of US policies, which pursue no other goal but to foment tension among countries, will have dangerous consequences for the entire world, in general, and West Asia, in particular.
Ali Shamkhani made the remarks in a Sunday meeting with the visiting Foreign Minister of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi in Tehran.
Noting that recent ‘integration of the fake Zionist regime in the CENTCOM mechanism’ by the United States proves that Washington is bent on going on with its destabilising policies, the Iranian official said:
‘Continuation of these policies will have extremely dangerous consequences for the security and stability of the region and the entire world.’
On January 15, the Pentagon reported a change in the Unified Command Plan shifting Israel from US European Command (EUCOM) to US Central Command (CENTCOM). In announcing the new areas of responsibility, the Defence Department pointed to the normalisation deals between Israel and a number of Arab states, which drew condemnation from both Islamic countries and the rest of the world, as ‘a strategic opportunity… to align key US partners against shared threats in the Middle East.’
That same day, the Wall Street Journal characterised the decision as former US President Donald Trump’s last-minute bid to shape the regional agenda for the administration of President Joe Biden and spur Arab-Israeli cooperation against Iran.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Iranian security official elaborated on the country’s stance on the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying that the US’ violation of its obligations, its irresponsible withdrawal from the agreement and the continuation of Trump’s policies by the Biden administration are the main reasons behind the ongoing crisis surrounding the deal.
‘The best way out of the impasse created by the US is to respect the inalienable rights of the Iranian people,’ Iran’s security chief stressed.
The JCPOA was reached between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, in 2015. However, the deal was ditched by Trump in 2018 in spite of Iran’s full compliance.
Since April, the remaining signatories to the JCPOA have been holding face-to-face talks in the Austrian capital Vienna aimed at bringing the US back to compliance and putting the deal back on track.
So far, six rounds of negotiations have been held, as a result of which, according to participants, ‘significant progress’ has been made in the course of the ‘constructive’ and ‘businesslike’ talks.
However, disagreements have persisted over a number of issues, including how to sequence the US sanctions removal, with Tehran arguing that since Washington was the party that violated the terms of the agreement, it should take the first step back into compliance with the deal by removing its unilateral sanctions.
Shamkhani also emphasised that ensuring the security of international waterways is among Iran’s main strategies, adding that the presence of foreign forces in the Persian Gulf disrupts stability and endurable security in the region.
Shamkhani further pointed to deep-rooted relations between Iran and Japan and stressed the importance of improving mutual ties without interference and influence from third parties.
The Japanese foreign minister, for his part, said his country is interested in the expansion of ties with Tehran, expressing hope that the two countries would further improve relations under the new Iranian administration.
Motegi highlighted the significance of the JCPOA as an international agreement and said the United States must stop its excessive demands to revive the deal.