President Donald Trump says the United States would think about the issue of sanctions to help Iran fight the coronavirus if Tehran asked for it.
Responding to a reporter’s question during the White House briefing on Thursday April 2 if he would consider easing the sanctions on Iran to allow medical supplies reach the country, Trump said: "They haven’t even asked us to do that."
A reporter told him that he has a moral responsibility to help Iran as it is hit by the coronavirus, Trump said: "I have a moral responsibility to help them if they ask. If they needed help, I would certainly consider different things."
The reporter reminded the President that "The United Nations says they need help," and the President answered: "That is up to the United Nations. I am talking about us and what happens is that if they wanted help because they have a very big case of the virus [outbreak], one of the worst on Earth, we would give them help."
Asked how the Iranian President can reach out to the United States for help, Trump said what he has always reiterated about a breakthrough in the diplomatic deadlock with Iran: "If they want to meet, we would love to meet. And we would like to settle the whole thing."
He also made it clear that "We are not looking for government change. This country has been through that many times. That does not work."
Trump said that "Iranians love America and what we stand for." However, he reminded that "They have been a very hostile country. They made a deal that President Obama should have never made," and insisted that "It was a short-term deal."
During the past week, Iranian officials and some in the West have been arguing in a public campaign that the U.S. sanctions have hindered Iran's ability to import medical supplies to help the coronavirus patients.
China, Russia, the UN chief and some other UN officials also demanded sanctions relief for Iran to allow it to cope with the deadly outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives in Iran.
Nevertheless, on Thursday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran is well supplied with hard currency and essential goods for 12 months.
Rouhani also said that Iran is in a good position for procuring food and medicine. "We have a good reserve of essential commodities for the next months and Agriculture and Trade Ministers have given very promising reports for the situation during the coming months."
He also said that around 4,000,000 tons of essential commodities are currently stuck at the Iranian customs and will soon pour into the market.
Meanwhile, during the past week, U.S. Secretary State Mike Pompeo also did not reject the possibility of considering sanction relief for Iran. However, he reiterated that U.S. sanctions on Iran do not affect the import of food and medicine into the country.
In another development, Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden also called on the United States government on Thursday to ease sanctions on Iran in order to enable Tehran to fight the outbreak.
According to the Associated Press, Biden said the United States should set up a dedicated channel for banks and other companies to operate in Iran and issue licenses for the sale of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
He also called for guarantees to aid groups that they will not be penalized for operating in Iran and said Tehran should reciprocate by freeing detained Americans.
Following its withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, the United States intensified sanctions on Tehran and has been calling on Tehran to enter negotiations. Washington demands talks on what it says is Iran’s military threats to America’s regional allies, as well as its nuclear and ballistic missile programs to pave the way for lifting the sanctions. But the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has been so far adamant that Iranian officials should not take part in any negotiations with U.S. officials.