Brief on Iran (BOI – 309)



Amid Pandemic, Report Highlights Theft, Corruption, Hoarding in Iran’s Pharma Sector
CNS News, April 6, 2020

( – As the Iranian regime campaigns for a lifting of U.S. sanctions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an exiled opposition group in a new report claims massive corruption in the country’s pharmaceutical sector, including large-scale theft, hoarding, and the sale of expired drugs.

The report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) also highlights the fact – as stated repeatedly by U.S. officials – that U.S. sanctions on the regime have never applied to medicines.
According to official figures, Iran has recorded more than 58,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,603 deaths – the sixth highest death toll of any country right now.

But the NCRI, citing sources across Iran, believes the actual death toll now exceeds 18,000, which if true would move Iran to the top of the list. Iran reported its first two confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths on February 19. The number then climbed to 43 cases and eight deaths in only four days, making Iran at the time the worst-hit country outside mainland China.

The NCRI says the regime initially concealed the spread so it wouldn’t impede legislative elections on February 21. (Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei complained afterwards that “enemies” had tried to use the outbreak as a “pretext” to discourage people from going to the polls.)

“Contrary to the regime’s lies and cover-up, officials, including Ali Khamenei and his president Hassan Rouhani knew of the spread of the virus to Iran at least three weeks before making it public,” said the organization’s Paris-based foreign affairs committee chairman, Mohammad Mohaddessin.
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Iraqi Military: 3 Rockets Target US Oil Company in South
The New York Times, April 6, 2020

BAGHDAD — At least three rockets hit near the site of an American oil field service company in southern Iraq early on Monday, Iraq’s military said, the first such attack in recent months to target U.S. energy interests in Iraq.

The rockets targeted the site of Halliburton in the Burjesia area in the oil-rich Basra province, the military statement said. Two Iraqi security officials and one official at the state-run Basra Oil Company said five rockets at struck the area. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

A rocket launcher was subsequently found on the Zubair-Shuaiba road by security forces, according to the statement, with 11 unused missiles that were later defused.

No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. There was no significant damage, the military said, adding that Iraqi security forces in Basra are searching for the perpetrators of the attack.
Halliburton is an American oil service provider working in the Zubair oil field, which is operated by the Italian ENI.

Monday’s attack was the first since last summer to target U.S. oil companies working in the oil-rich south. A rocket struck a oil-drilling site in Basra last June, landing inside a compound housing energy giant Exxon Mobil, Shell and ENI. Three local workers were wounded in that attack.
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Iran: Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 19,500 in 242 Cities, April 6, 2020
Regime’s aid package to 3 million impoverished families is equivalent to 12 to 36 dollars

Maryam Rajavi: The token aid given by Khamenei and Rouhani to three million deprived families is less than a day’s salary of Iraqi and Afghan mercenaries of the terrorist Quds force. The insulting gesture reflects regime fear of an uprising Khamenei controls hundreds of billions of dollars of the nation’s wealth plundered by the IRGC and other major economic institutions and can easily pay the expenses of the impoverished so that they could be quarantined.

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) announced on Monday, April 6, 2020, that the Coronavirus death toll has shockingly risen to 19,500 in 242 cities across Iran. The number of victims in Tehran is 2,430, Gilan 1,700, Isfahan 1,660, Mazandaran 1,630, Khuzestan 870, Golestan 860, Alborz 730, Zanjan 370, Fars 360, Qazvin 320, East Azerbaijan 315, Ilam 160, South Khorasan 55, and Hormozgan 42.

Rouhani’s criminal instructions to send people back to work have fueled infighting among the regime’s rival factions. The Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, pretending (to care about people’s health), used the opportunity to attack Hassan Rouhani, saying: “Among all, the people’s health and well-being are what matters most, and in managing (the crisis), the priority must be given to that”!

Today, Ahmad Moradi, a parliament deputy, told the state-run Mehr News Agency, “When I read the president’s remarks about labeling Hormozgan a clear (virus-free) Province, two hypotheses came to my mind, one that he was given the wrong information, and second that he made the remarks intentionally and carelessly. I think the second option is closer to reality … The president’s decision and argument are wrong a hundred percent.”

Parvaneh Salahshouri, another member of the regime parliament, told Arman state-run daily, “In the parliament, we allocated $200 million to the Quds Force in one day. Undoubtedly, in the current situation, maintaining people’s health is more important than other issues.”

Meanwhile, today, the IRGC Brigadier General Ali Shamkhani, the Supreme National Security Council Secretary, said, “The false argument of ‘economy versus health’ should not stop us. Physicians and workers are the two main pillars of the strategy to overcome the crisis.” Shamkhani’s remarks show that decision to send people back to work has been made by the entirety of the regime, including Khamenei.

On another development, today, Nahid Tajedin, a member of the regime’s parliament, warned of the labor movement’s uprising in the aftermath of the Coronavirus crisis. She said, “Coronavirus economic losses are estimated at $30 billion … Our biggest concern is that the government’s efforts to keep more than 11 million contract workers employed would not be enough … resulting in new labor movements that will endanger our economic security.”
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Menendez & Engel Propose Policies for Addressing COVID-19 in Iran, April 3, 2020

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today proposed a series of policies addressing one key part of the global COVID-19 outbreak. The lawmakers’proposals would help ensure humanitarian assistance will be able to flow to Iranian citizens who need it most, while seeking to avoid enriching and empowering the dangerous regime.

“The Iranian people have suffered for decades under the Iranian regime’s oppression, resource mismanagement, and dangerous propaganda—all of which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Ranking Member Menendez. “In the midst of this global pandemic, however, Iran and its proxies insist on threatening the people of Iran, the United States, and regional stability. The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran for its nefarious nuclear weapons development, support for terrorism and human rights abuses. There is no evidence that the regime has stopped its sanctionable behavior. Moreover, simply lifting sanctions that have been imposed for ongoing malign behavior will not provide immediate or meaningful relief for the Iranian people. Congress has made clear through legislation that our sanctions regime should never hinder humanitarian and medical relief. To that end, the Trump Administration has a number of technical and public diplomacy tools it should use to ensure that the United States does not contribute to the Iranian regime’s cruelty of preventing humanitarian relief from reaching those most in need.”

“Iran has become one of the countries hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, and the tragedy there is growing by the day. The Iranian regime, however, has diverted medical equipment, declined U.S. and other assistance, and continued to support dangerous terrorists around the world even in the midst of this crisis. The Iranian people shouldn’t suffer the deadly consequences of their leaders’ incompetence and corruption,” said Chairman Engel. “Iran remains a threat to the United States with its nuclear program, as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and by backing groups attacking American personnel in the region, and we will not relax efforts to confront these malign policies. But we also have a shared obligation to combat this deadly pandemic and to help people who are suffering wherever they are.”

The United States has taken steps in recent weeks to help the Iranian people in their fight against COVID-19. On February 27th, the Treasury Department granted broad authority to allow humanitarian transactions with the Central Bank of Iran. On March 6th, the Treasury Department posted a new FAQ on their website with respect to humanitarian transactions. At the same time, the Administration’s rhetoric has been chilling to those who want to participate in humanitarian relief in Iran.
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Iran Protests & more

Lawmaker In Iran Says Military Was Right In Shooting Down Ukraine Airliner
Radio Farda, April 6, 2020

Although Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that Ukraine International Airline’s (UIA) passenger plane “was shot down due to human error” in January, an influential member of parliament says the military did the right thing by shooting down the airliner.

On January 8, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ (IRGC) missiles shot down the Boeing plane killing all 176 onboard, as it was taking off from Tehran, but initially Iran claimed the plane crashed due to unknown reasons. It took three days for officials to admit that the military had shot down the aircraft and later claimed that some personnel were arrested.

However, a member of parliament’s Legal and Judicial Commission, Hassan Norouzi, now says that nobody was arrested for the incident, and the military forces did their job well by downing the passenger plane. “The Iranian military did well by downing the passenger plane,” mid-ranking cleric, Norouzi said on Sunday, April 5, adding, “Contrary to the official claims, no arrests have been made concerning the downing.”

Speaking to a local daily, Hamdeli, the ultraconservative spokesman for the parliament’s Legal and Judicial Commission claimed that “the plane was no longer under the control of the tower and appeared to have come under America’s control.”

Furthermore, Norouzi maintained that the UIA’s plane “was in Israel the week before the incident and appeared to have been tampered with and manipulated, there.” Norouzi went even further by claiming that as the passenger plane was controlled by “others”, the Iranian military had no option but shoot it down.
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Iran Human Rights Monitor Monthly Report – March 2020
Iran-HRM, April 6, 2020

March was a deadly month across Iran, with a large increase in the number of deaths from the Covid-19 disease and the spread of the coronavirus in Iran’s prisons. At least 14,700 in 237 cities across Iran passed away from the novel virus as of March 31. Iranian prisons and detention centers were one of the most vulnerable centers hit by coronavirus due to regime’s negligence.

Various inmates in different jails throughout Iran are infected with this illness. Six inmates have already lost their lives in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (Fashafuyeh), which lacks even basic hygiene necessities. Inmates suffering from coronavirus are not being separated from others in this facility.
In Ghezelhesar Prison of Karaj, west of Tehran, a number of inmates have been infected with COVID-19 and some have even lost their lives. The prisons of Raja’i Shahr and Evin, along with the women’s prison of Qarchak, and dozens of other large and small jails in Tehran and Alborz provinces are under the same conditions. The situation in prisons of other provinces are reported as very dire. Most of Iran’s prisons are filled with twice or three times the number of their capacity.

There were reports of several deaths of prisoners infected with the coronavirus in various prisons.
The regime’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi in late February claimed that the regime will be sending prisoners on temporary leave to control the growing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

On February 27, the state-run news agency, ISNA, reported: “Following … some concerns about the spread of the virus in prisons, the Coronavirus Management Committee in Tehran suggested to the Judiciary that some prisoners in Tehran province should be allowed to go on leave while conforming to the terms of their leave.” Subsequently, Raisi engaged in a publicity stunt by issuing a directive that new prisoners would not be accepted. Nevertheless, the arrival of new prisoners has continued as before.

Furthermore, the authorities excluded peaceful political prisoners from the mass prisoner release that was announced by Judiciary Chief.
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OIAC Statement: IRGC’s Sinister Move to Expel Doctors without Borders (MSF) from Iran is a Crime Against Humanity March 30, 2020 March 30, 2020

New York, March 24, 2020—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is shocked by the statement made today by officials of the Iranian Ministry of Health (MoH) revoking its previous approval for MSF’s intervention to manage severe COVID-19 cases in Isfahan. MoH officials declared today that the country does not need additional treatment capacity for the management of severe cases.

“We are deeply surprised to learn that the approval for the deployment of our treatment unit has been revoked,” said Michel Olivier Lacharité, manager of MSF’s emergency programs, who is based in Paris. “The need for this intervention, and the authorizations needed to start it, were discussed and agreed with relevant Iranian authorities during the past weeks. Our teams were ready to start medical activities at the end of this week.”

Two cargo planes chartered by MSF, containing the materials needed to build a 50-bed inflatable treatment unit, landed in Tehran on Sunday and Monday, March 22 and 23. MSF also sent a nine-person international emergency team, including two intensive care unit (ICU) specialists, who were welcomed by the local health authorities when they arrived in Isfahan. The site allocated for the treatment unit within the grounds of Amin Hospital had already been prepared—the most time-consuming part of set up that involves leveling and preparing the ground and connecting to water and electricity.

MSF remains ready to re-deploy its emergency team and treatment unit elsewhere in Iran or to move them to other countries in the region, where support to address the massive needs caused by the coronavirus outbreak is urgently needed.
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