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Iran Foreign Minister Says US 'Gleefully' Killing Iranians

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohmmad Javad Zarif wears a protective mask and gloves as means of protection against the cornonavirus COVID-19, during a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran, March 11, 202

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif on Friday accused the United States of taking pride in killing Iranians "gleefully" through the policy of maximum pressure and sanctions that impede humanitarian trade with Iran.

"The U.S. administration gleefully takes pride in killing Iranian citizens on the Iranian New Year. The White House takes its "maximum pressure" to a new level of inhumanity with its utter contempt for human life," Zarif wrote in a tweet in reference to the remarks of Brian Hook, Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State on Thursday.

Iranians marked its New Year in the solar Iranian calendar on March 20. Iran is struggling with U.S. sanctions that were re-introduced in 2018 as well as a coronavirus epidemic that so far according to official reports has taken the lives of 1,433 and infected more than 20,000 Iranians. The numbers are much higher as the official reports published by the Health Ministry only include cases confirmed by limited testing capacity. An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) who has recently visited Iran said March 16 that the real numbers can be up to five times higher.

Speaking to reporters at a special briefing on March 19, Hook had said that the U.S. policy of maximum pressure on Iran will continue. "U.S. sanctions are not preventing aid from getting to Iran. And the entire world knows and the Iranian people know that there are – there’s always been, from the very beginning, exemptions for food and medicine and medical devices," he said.

Quoting a Reuters headline in his tweet that read "U.S. to Iran: Coronavirus won't save you from sanctions" in reference to Hook's remarks, Zarif ended his tweet with: "Iran to US: Your policy will live in infamy. But Iran won't break".

In his New Year (Nowrouz) video message released on Wednesday Zarif had criticized the maximum pressure policy, saying: “Even amid this pandemic, the US government has vengefully refused to lift its unlawful and collective punishment, making it virtually impossible for us to even buy medicine and medical equipment.”

Criticizing other countries for bowing to U.S. pressure the Iranian Foreign Minister said those who passively comply with the whims of unilateralist bullies must wake up to the reality that they are also responsible for the destructive consequences of aggressive unilateralism".