TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday lashed out at U.S. sanctions which have obstructed Iran’s access to medicines amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the White House knows nothing about humanity.
Rouhani, addressing a meeting of the national task force for fighting the coronavirus here, slammed Washington for blocking Tehran’s request for a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to combat the deadly outbreak.
"We requested a $5 billion loan from the IMF and all members agreed, but America does not allow us to get the loan for medicine and medication,” he said.
"They have distanced themselves from humanity as far as this. The White House today has no sense of humanity. If it had had a sense of humanity, it wouldn’t have done this,” he said.
The Iranian president also lashed out at what he called "friendly countries” that have frozen Iran’s money in their banks.
"There are countries which are our friends. Our money is in their banks and they have blocked our money and they are not ready to unfreeze it,” he said.
"They say the Americans are putting us under pressure, telling them it will take punitive measures if they unfreeze Iran’s money. So, they have succumbed to U.S. pressure and oppression,” he added.
"Such a crime is unprecedented in history, where a country is not able to draw its money deposited in a bank to cover its people’s health needs.”
Iranian officials have said the country may sue South Korea for refusing to release its oil money held in bank accounts in Seoul.
President Rouhani has ordered the Foreign Ministry to use legal means to have Iran’s fund repatriated. Iran’s frozen assets in South Korea are estimated to be between $6.5 billion and $9 billion.
Abdolnaser Hemmati, the head of the Central Bank of Iran, has said the actions of banks in South Korea were preventing Iran from using the money to buy foods and medicines, trade that is exempt from U.S. sanctions.
The Americans, Rouhani said Saturday, are angry about how the Iranian government is managing the country, piling up on their pressure to bring the country to its knees, but to no avail.
Iran has been contending with the deadliest pandemic the world has seen in many decades amid U.S. sanctions, which have seriously hampered its efforts to contain the outbreak.
The country’s coronavirus death toll rose by 116 to 23,029 on Saturday, a health ministry spokeswoman said.
The total number of identified cases spiked by 2,139 in the last 24 hours to 399,940 in one of the Middle East’s worst-hit countries, Sima Sadat Lari said.