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Iran Again Accuses The U.S. Of Blocking Flood Relief Aid

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei meeting top officials, with president Rouhani sitting to his right. 3 Apr 2019

President Hassan Rouhani has once again attacked the United States for imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic, accusing Washington of blocking international aid from reaching flood-hit Iran.

At a meeting with the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday, April 3, Rouhani maintained, "Those who did not let Iranians residing outside the country send aid to their own people should be ashamed."

Rouhani went further directly attacking the U.S. by saying, "The enemies, who blocked the country's Red Crescent bank accounts…have been disgraced."

Rouhani asserted, "The disgraced ones have not yet been successful in compensating for damages from floods that hit the United States, a couple of months ago."

Rouhani made the remarks while the Islamic Republic's Red Crescent is not sanctioned by Washington.

Furthermore, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had earlier denied experiencing any limitations to its assistance to the Iranian Red Crescent Society.

In an interview with Radio Farda, Ignatius Ivlev-Yorke, public relation officer of ICRC said, "ICRC’s representatives in Iran are closely monitoring the situation in cooperation with the Red Crescent," which "has already mobilized their staff and volunteers" to assist flood-stricken areas. "ICRC is ready to explore all possibilities with its Iranian counterparts if so required," he said.

Earlier in a tweet on April 1, Zarif had condemned @realDonaldTrump’s “maximum pressure” as a factor impeding “aid efforts by #IranianRedCrescent to all communities devastated by unprecedented floods.”

Zarif did not explain how exactly U.S. sanctions reimposed in 2018 have a direct bearing on Iranian domestic relief efforts.

Hours before Zarif’s tweet Radio Farda had published an article discussing why the international community seems to be indifferent towards the flood disaster in Iran.

A day after Iran's foreign minister called the U.S. sanctions an impediment to getting aid to flood victims, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday blamed Iran for the level of devastation from significant floods and said Washington was ready to help.

Pompeo issued a statement in implicit response to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who on Twitter blamed "economic terrorism" by the United States whose sanctions have led to a chronic shortage of rescue helicopters.

"These floods once again show the level of Iranian regime mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness. The regime blames outside entities when, in fact, it is their mismanagement that has led to this disaster," Pompeo said in his statement.

"The United States stands ready to assist and contribute to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would then direct the money through the Iranian Red Crescent for relief," he said.

Hours later, Zarif dismissed Washington’s announcement that it is willing to help in flood disaster, as “fake news.”

President Rouhani also reiterated on Wednesday, April 3, "Preventing foreign aid from entering the country in these hard conditions is an unprecedented crime."

Flash floods in the past two weeks in 25 provinces of Iran have more than sixty dead and thousands more injured or homeless.

Meanwhile, the floods have once again exposed the division between the Rouhani administration and the Islamic Republic Revolution Guards Corps. The two sides accused each other of listlessness in assisting the disaster-hit people.