“In times of global crisis, America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been,” the former veep said in a statement.
“And, in the midst of this deadly pandemic that respects no borders, the United States should take steps to offer what relief we can to those nations hardest hit by this virus — including Iran — even as we prioritize the health of the American people.”
Iran has been slammed by the pandemic, with at least 44,605 cases, and 2,898 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks global numbers.
Biden acknowledged that Iran’s mullahs had failed to effectively manage the crisis, and that Iran and its proxies were still spreading unrest and promoting violence in the region, but asserted the US should help anyway on humanitarian grounds.
“The Iranian people are hurting desperately. It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance. Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people,” he said.
Easing the tough economic sanctions imposed on Iran by President Trump as part of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the country could help save lives, he added.
Biden’s comments came a day after Trump warned Iran of harsh retaliation should it or its proxies launch attacks on US forces or facilities.
“Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!” Trump tweeted.
The tweet followed the revelation that the US had deployed Patriot air defense systems to an Iraqi military base as a precaution against Iranian-backed militia attacks, the website Middle East Eye reported, citing US and Iraqi military sources.
One battery was deployed to the Ain al-Asad base last week and was being assembled, according to the report.
The base was targeted by Iran in January, following a US strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late last month that Iran had rejected offers of US aid to combat the pandemic.
One of the signature policies of the Obama-Biden administration was the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was widely criticized at the time for its broad sanctions relief and a $1.7 billion cash payment to the mullahs. The Trump administration withdrew from the deal in 2018.
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