Brief on Iran (BOI – 307)


Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s remarks at the Senate Iran Briefing, Capitol Hill, March 12, 2020

Iranian Officials Stole More Than $1 Billion in Coronavirus Funds, Pompeo Says
Tehran uses pandemic to spread anti-U.S. propaganda
Free Beacon, March 23, 2020

Iranian regime officials stole more than $1 billion meant to help the country’s people fight the spread of coronavirus, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

European countries intended for more than $1 billion cash for medical supplies to go to the Iranian people, who have been ravaged by the virus. But American officials say regime leaders instead pocketed the money and are now using it to protect themselves from the virus as it spreads throughout the population. This includes hoarding medical supplies that were meant to aid Iranian citizens.

Multiple regional reports have showed that before and since the virus began spreading, Iranian leaders stole funds purposed directly to support the ailing Iranian people.

Iran has been among the hardest hit by the virus, and its government’s response has drawn international criticism, especially from the Trump administration. Secretary of State Pompeo accused Iran of mass corruption as the regime continues to spread propaganda, including accusations that the United States manufactured the coronavirus and is using its tough global sanctions campaign to prevent Iran from accessing medicine and humanitarian aid.

Pompeo on Monday issued a series of new allegations about Tehran’s mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. “Supreme leader [Ali] Khamenei’s fabrications regarding the Wuhan virus are dangerous and they put Iranians and people around the world at greater risk,” Pompeo said. “Facts matter.”

“Regime officials stole over a billion euros intended for medical supplies,” Pompeo said in one of the first public accountings of Iran’s alleged misuse of humanitarian funds that were meant to be used in cases such as the coronavirus outbreak. That sum amounts to well over one billion in American currency. Pompeo also said Iranian officials “continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and other medical equipment for sale on the black market.”

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Sanctions on Entities Trading in or Transporting Iranian Petrochemicals, March 18, 2020

On March 18, the U.S. Department of State imposed sanctions, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13846, on the following seven entities for knowingly engaging in a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of petrochemical products from Iran.

    • South African company SPI International Proprietary Limited;
    • Hong Kong-based companies McFly Plastic HK Limited, Saturn Oasis Co., Limited, and Sea Charming Shipping Company Limited; and
    • Chinese companies Dalian Golden Sun Import & Export Co., Ltd., Tianyi International (Dalian) Co., Ltd., and Aoxing Ship Management (Shanghai) Ltd.
    • The U.S. Department of State imposed sanctions, pursuant to E.O. 13846, on the following two entities, each of which owns or controls SPI International Proprietary Limited and had knowledge of its sanctionable activities.
    • South African company Main Street 1095; and
    • Iranian entity Armed Forces Social Security Investment Company
    • The U.S. Department of State imposed sanctions, pursuant to E.O. 13846, on the following three individuals, each of which is an executive officer of one of the above entities.
    • Mohammad Hassan Toulai, Managing Director of Armed Forces Social Security Investment Company;
    • Hossein Tavakkoli, Director of SPI International Proprietary Limited; and<
    • Reza Ebadzadeh Semnani, Director of Main Street 1095

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Iran: Coronavirus Fatalities Exceed 10,500 in 212 Cities
The wave of arrests for rumormongering about the death toll
Khamenei orders military to hold biological warfare exercise a day after blaming the U.S. of Coronavirus production, March 23, 2020

The Peoples Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) announced this afternoon, March 23, 2020, that the Coronavirus death toll has passed the shocking number of 10,500 in 212 cities across Iran. The number of victims in the city of Isfahan exceeds 600; in Kashan 500, in Isfahan province, it has surpassed 1,262. In Khorasan Razavi 872, in Zanjan 83, in Ardebil 160, in Golestan 536, in Khuzestan 369, in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad 41, and Semnan 40 people have lost their lives so far.
Many patients who were discharged from hospitals died within a week, but they were not classified as Coronavirus victims, doctors from Gilan report.

According to the official state news agency, Qom’s University of Medical Sciences announced: “40 doctors and 130 nurses were infected with this virus while treating patients.” At the same time, Dr. Alireza Zali, in charge of Tehran’s Coronavirus Combat Headquarters announced that the number of patients (referring to) medical centers has increased by 5%, and those in critical condition and in need of hospitalization by 12%. Ambulance sirens are regularly heard in various areas of Tehran and other cities.
At the same time, the mullahs’ regime adamantly prevents the release of the actual death toll. A wave of arrests has continued in various cities on charges of spreading rumors about the casualties.

At a meeting at the Coronavirus Combat Headquarters in West Azerbaijan, Nasser Khodayari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said on March 22, 2020, that nine people were arrested on charges of spreading rumors. “Meetings with FATA (State Cyber Police), Army, IRGC, and the state radio and television officials to discover ways to counter the Corona news in the cyberspace have been another task of this command center,” he added.

Also, Hussein Shahriar, IRGC commander of the city of Maku’s State Security Force (SSF), announced the arrest of people for insulting regime officials in cyberspace and said that any insult to officials and spreading false information (in relation to Coronavirus) would be considered a crime and that FATA police would deal with its perpetrators. Some have already been arrested on these bogus charges in Isfahan.
Hushang Hosseini, SSF commander of Ardebil Province, announced the arrest of 11 people on charges related to disseminating information on Coronavirus.

In another development, the Iranian regime’s Army announced that it had been ordered by the General Staff of the Armed Forces to carry out biological warfare exercises.
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30 Baha’is were summoned to the court in Shiraz, March 17, 2020

On March 14, 2019, 30 Baha’i citizens were summoned to Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz. Their summon was related to a case that was opened back in 2016 by the Intelligence Ministry. They were charged with “membership in an opposition group” and “propaganda against the state”. They were identified as following:

Noushin Zanhari, Esmail Rousta, Behnam Azimpour, Saeed Hasani, Ramin Shirvani, Marjan Gholampour, Mojgan Gholampour, Farid Shademan, Farzad Shademan, Parisa Rouhizadegan, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, Sahba Moslehi, Ahdyeh Enayati, Mahyar Sefidi, Shadi Sadegh Aghdam, Vargha Kaviani, Soroush Ighani, Maryam Eslami, Yekta Fahandaj Saadi, Nabil Tahzib, Samar Ashnaei, Rezvan Yazdani, Lala Salehi, Nasim Kashani, Bahareh Norouzi, Niloufar Hakimi, Farzan Masoumi, Shahnaz Sabet, and Farhad Sabet


Marjan Gholampour, Mojgan Gholampour, Farid Shademan, Farzad Shademan, Parisa Rouhizadegan, Shamim Akhlaghi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, Sahba Moslehi, Ahdyeh Enayati, Mahyar Sefidi, Shadi Sadegh Aghdam, Vargha Kaviani, Soroush Ighani, and Maryam Eslami were arrested in 2016 and were transferred to Ministry of Intelligence Detention Center in Shiraz known as the No. 100 Detention Center. On October 3, 2016, Bahareh Norouzi and her husband, Siamak Honarvar were arrested and after their house was searched and their belongings were confiscated. They were also transferred to the No.100 Detention Center.

On October 10, 2016, Vargha Kaviani, Shamim Akhlaghi, Farid Shademan, Soroush Ighaei, Farzad Shademan, and Mojgan Gholampour were released from Adel Abad Prison on 200 million Tomans bail along with 92 other prisoners.
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Iran Protests & more

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Exaggeration on the First Day of Iran’s News Year
Iran Focus, March 23, 2020

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had called 2019 a year of the boom in production, and in the message of Nowruz 2020, he claimed this was correct.

He turned to his economic experts to prove the claim and said, “These reports show that in 2019 in addition to the welcome of the experts on the slogan of the economical boom, in practice it was welcomed and by the efforts of a different organization, production was partially started, but its effect on people’s lives was not noticeable.”

But while the regime’s supreme leader has claimed that they had an economic boom and said that to some extent this has had achievements, but he immediately added: “Of course the effect on people’s lives was not noticeable”. He thus implicitly acknowledged the nullity of his claim to a boom in the economy.

The claim of a boom in production is correct when it has the most impact on the economy of the country and ultimately on the lives of the people, otherwise it is nothing more than a hollow and bogus claim.
Regardless of this contradiction, the fact is that in the past year, production has not prospered because of the inhuman policies of the regime and its stalemate in the economy.

One of the major problems of factories and manufacturing plants has been the rising inflation and rising dollar and consequently rising of commodity prices, which has increased the cost of production and increased domestic goods, and as a result, domestic goods cannot compete with imported products.
Despite previous promises by Hassan Rouhani’s government on improving the business environment and removing barriers to production, it remained just as an empty promise, so that state-run media and government officials acknowledging that more than 50 percent of industrial settlements work below capacity and the rest are closed or half-closed.

The turbulent economic environment has led to the closure of a significant portion of the country’s businesses and small businesses, resulting in a decrease in production, which has turned to an increase in unemployment. It is such a turbulent environment that has made investment sharply declining and reaching its lowest point in recent years.

State-run daily Arman wrote: “Sixty-seven percent of workers are below the poverty line” and about the problem of the production units in 2019, he said: “Inflation growth and deepening recession were among the problems that most affected production activity during 2019. Units that are the main area of ​​the work for workers and any of these problems endanger their wages and livelihoods more than anything else.” (State-run daily Arman, 17 February 2020)
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Iran’s ruling authorities divided over coronavirus crisis
Arab News, March 22, 2020

Disagreements and tensions within Iran’s theocratic establishment have reached unprecedented levels. The regime has become significantly divided over the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, its severity and scope across the nation, and what concrete steps ought to be taken in order to handle the outbreak.

The number of people in Iran who have been infected with COVID-19 is staggering and continues to rise. This has created a deep gap between the senior officials who make the final decisions (including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the senior cadre of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Quds Force) and lower-level politicians and health officials.

One case in point is the battle between officials over the magnitude and scope of the crisis. The top officials continue to downplay the outbreak, which is posing a threat not only to the Iranian people but also the rest of the world. According to the official numbers, more than 20,000 people have been infected in Iran, while more than 1,500 have died. This is a significant spike in fatalities compared to two weeks ago.

But some of Iran’s lawmakers and health officials are, surprisingly, challenging the top officials’ efforts to minimize the scope of the crisis. For example, Massoud Pezeshkian, first deputy speaker of the parliament and a former health minister, recently criticized the government, saying that the official statistics were inaccurate. “The (official) numbers are not real because there are a number of patients who show no symptoms. We locate 95 (infected) people and two die, so we say two have died out of 100, whereas it may be that 2 percent of 10,000 have died.”

The unofficial number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Iran appears to be much higher than the authorities are acknowledging publicly. The actual death toll across all 31 Iranian provinces has exceeded 8,800, based on a report provided by oppositional group the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
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Blog:US Fears Iran Facilitating Spread of Coronavirus

March 17, 2020; By Jeff Seldin

WASHINGTON – Iran’s struggle to contain its coronavirus pandemic could have a ripple effect across the Middle East, with some U.S. officials suggesting it could further destabilize an already volatile region.

In particular, military officials worry that the regime’s slow response has quietly turned Iran into a launching pad for the virus, helping it to spread far beyond what officials in Tehran have been willing to acknowledge.

“Iran sits in the middle of the [Middle East] theater, so their ability to pass that infection to other states is very worrisome,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia, said while briefing lawmakers this past week, noting the “permeability and porousness of the borders.”

Making matters worse, U.S. officials believe the extent of the coronavirus’ grip on Iran has been vastly underreported, reaching well into the upper echelons of Iran’s leadership.
“A number of people have died as a result of that in Iran’s senior leadership cadre,” McKenzie told reporters Friday.

“People are separated. They’re distrustful,” he added, warning the virus’ toll could make Iran’s leadership more willing to strike out at the U.S. and Western targets in the region, if only as a distraction to the problems at home.Since Iran diagnosed its first case of the coronavirus Feb. 19, it has identified more than 11,000 victims, with officials reporting more than 500 deaths.

World Health Organization officials who recently visited the country, said while Tehran’s efforts are “are evolving in the right direction” there are still some deficiencies and that “more needs to be done.” United Nations officials say they, too, are “deeply concerned” about the pandemic in Iran.
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