Former vice president Joe Biden called on President Donald Trump Thursday to offer more aid to Iran, as that country struggles with coronavirus — though the U.S. has already offered aid, and the Iranian regime rejected it.
In a statement, Biden said:
It is bad enough that the Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a “maximum pressure” strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program. It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to humanitarian assistance.
Biden also blamed the U.S. for Iran’s suffering, saying steps needed to be taken “to ensure the United States is not exacerbating this growing humanitarian crisis.”
The U.S. offered aid to Iran in February, with the State Department noting that humanitarian aid would be exempt from sanctions:
[C]ertain donations to Iran intended to relieve human suffering, including the donation of medicine, are exempt from U.S. sanctions. In addition, the United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations to its sanctions for the commercial export of food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural products to Iran.
But Iran rejected American aid, accusing the U.S. of spreading the virus deliberately to “poison” the Iranian people.
Iran also blocked aid last month from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders (Médicins Sans Frontières), saying that the country had spare hospital capacity and had no need for additional medical supplies.
Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted this week that Iran continues to spend money on its nuclear program and its terrorist proxies despite the impact of coronavirus.
Moreover, they note, Iran controls billions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds and oil revenue escrow accounts.
The Iranian regime has apparently boasted that it is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to press for sanctions relief.
The Iran deal gave the regime access to an estimated $100 billion to $150 billion in assets, plus billons in cash.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.