WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- For the U.S. government, killing Iranians is seen as a generally positive thing. This has some in the administration seeing the coronavirus outbreak in Iran as an opportunity of sorts.
The coronavirus has killed more than 800 Iranians so far, and infected many thousands.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of Central Command which covers the Middle East, said Friday the U.S. is still assessing things. The outbreak, he said, was going to hurt Iran in the short-term.
President Donald Trump, closely allied with Saudi Arabia and the occupying regime of Israel, has sought to debilitate Iran through sweeping sanctions including on the Islamic Republic’s key export of oil.
Nearly two years ago, Trump bolted from an agreement brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama under which Iran drastically scaled back nuclear program in return for promises of economic relief.
Even with Trump allegedly exempting humanitarian goods from sanctions, few companies are willing to risk U.S. wrath by selling to Iran.
Iran has historically boasted one of the region’s strongest public health systems. However, the United States is trying to ensure that some urgently needed medical equipment and other needs do not reach the Islamic Republic.
According to Agence France-Presse, the U.S. government is watching to see if the novel coronavirus has taken a substantial toll on Iran and weakened its government.
Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, doubted the impact of coronavirus deaths on the Iranian leadership.
"Iran has experienced extraordinary pressure since the U.S. imposed the oil embargo, with blow after blow, but the government is still there,” she told the French news agency.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei Khamenei has described the new coronavirus as a biological weapon.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said the cruel U.S. sanctions are severely hampering Iran fight against the disease.
While the U.S. has ostensibly announced its readiness to assist Iran, it has made no concrete offers.
Iranian officials, meanwhile, have stressed that the U.S. announcement is not sincere. One key test will be Iran’s request for an IMF loan which observers believe will be blocked by the U.S. in all likelihood.