CHICAGO: Deaths from COVID-19 in Iran have passed 201,000, the Paris-based opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said on Wednesday. If their estimate is correct, it means the country has by far the highest per capita death rate in the world.
The figure is almost four times the official count of the Iranian government. Leading doctors across the country have already warned that the actual total is likely to be much higher than official figures suggest.
Maryam Rajavi, NCRI president-elect, described the skyrocketing death toll as a disaster. She said it was a direct result of the Iranian regime’s response to US sanctions and international calls to abandon its nuclear research program. She added that the situation would worsen following the announcement last week by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that he was banning the importation of COVID-19 vaccines produced in the United States and the United Kingdom, on the grounds that they are “untrustworthy”.
“Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have sent the Iranian people to the murderous fields of the coronavirus, (and) by banning the import of vaccines, they are creating an even more serious disaster,” Rajavi said.
Ali Safavi, a member of the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee, said the regime is taking advantage of the presidential transition in the United States and the madness in Europe to deny the Iranian people access to vaccines as a means of controlling it and punish him.
“This puts the Iranian people in danger and constitutes a crime against humanity,” he said. “It shows that Khamenei wants to use the coronavirus crisis as a barrier against another uprising like the one we saw in 2009.
“Otherwise, why would he prevent the importation of vaccines? After all, Khamenei had no problem purchasing weapons and other goods in the United States and Europe in recent years, as those purchases served his purposes. “
Safavi added that the regime in Tehran spent more than $ 25 billion on Airbus and Boeing planes from Europe and the United States under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the accord. Iran nuclear power plant, but now refuses to buy COVID. -19 vaccines offered by biotechnology companies Moderna and Pfizer.
“Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has passed 201,000, which is a staggering figure in the sense that Iran ranks first in terms of deaths per capita,” he said.
“Along with this, the regime has refused to provide meaningful financial assistance to the millions of Iranians who have lost their jobs and cannot go to work because of the (pandemic). It is a crime against humanity and I think it is high time for the international community to get involved and do something about it.
The ruling mullahs in Iran are also exploiting the power shift in Washington to pursue their ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon, Safavi said.
“Anticipating (the arrival of the Biden administration on) January 20, they upped the stakes, claiming that they are now enriching uranium to 20% purity, which is a flagrant violation of the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, ”he added. “So all of the provocative actions they’ve taken are nuclear blackmail, in an attempt to force the Europeans and the United States to (return) to the JCPOA once the new administration takes office next week.
The Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reintroduced tough sanctions against Tehran. President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he may reverse the deal.
Safavi said the Iranian regime continues to develop its nuclear research program and its arms industry.
“European countries and the United States should draw a line in the sand and say that Iran has no right to enrich uranium,” he added.
He also called on the US and the EU to join forces to demand immediate action from Tehran, including: granting full access to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, to military sites in particular; stopping all nuclear research activities; end their nuclear missile expansion program; abandoning their efforts to destabilize other nations in the region. He also called for an end to the mullahs’ continued repression and violence against their own people and the continued executions of opponents.
“The regime is using the executions as a means to instill an atmosphere of terror and repression inside the country,” Safavi said. “We also believe that the EU and the US should start tackling one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated by this regime: the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988.”
Calling for a firm international stance against Tehran on the part of world powers, he said: “No political and economic concessions to this regime will moderate its behavior.”
He added that the World Health Organization must “internationalize this issue and hold the regime accountable” for denying its population access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“As long as you remain silent, as long as you take no action, it will only encourage the mullahs to continue their policy – and of course, the first victims of this policy are the Iranian people, who suffer every day. More and more Iranians are dying, ”Safavi said.