Trump offered a number of the US’ “excess ventilators” to Iran during a press briefing on Saturday. “If they need ventilators, which they do, I would send them ventilators,” Trump said.
Though the offer was a humanitarian one on its surface, Trump followed it up with a characteristic flex on Iran. “Right now they just want to survive,” he said, adding “they’re loaded up with the plague.”
Zarif slapped away Trump’s likely backhanded offer on Sunday. “Iran will be EXPORTING ventilators in a few months,” he wrote in a tweet addressed to Trump. “All you need to do is stop interfering in the affairs of other nations; mine especially.”
Iran will be EXPORTING ventilators in a few months, @realdonaldtrump.
All you need to do is stop interfering in the affairs of other nations; mine especially.
And believe me, we do not take advice from ANY American politician.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 19, 2020
“And believe me, we do not take advice from ANY American politician.”
Trump’s gesture was one of several American overtures to Tehran since the outbreak of Covid-19. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in February that he offered to help Iran contain its coronavirus outbreak, claiming that the country’s health infrastructure couldn’t handle the pandemic. Iran was among the world’s worst-hit countries by the virus at the time, but when cases began to mount in the US a month later, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the American offer “strange,” and replied: “You are suffering from shortages… If you have anything, use it on yourselves.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s leadership claims that US sanctions continue to restrict the country’s access to lifesaving medical supplies. The United Nations and other humanitarian bodies have repeatedly urged Washington to ease its sanctions amid the health crisis, with the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet warning they were “impeding medical efforts” and could lead to the “collapse” of Iran’s healthcare system.
Iran has reported 82,000 cases of coronavirus and 5,100 deaths, making it the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East. The US has recorded the most cases and deaths worldwide, however, with nearly 740,000 people infected and 39,000 deaths.