Iran’s Khamenei renews ban on talks with US

‘Those who believe that negotiations with the enemy will solve our problems are 100% wrong,’ Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. (Official Khamenei website via Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2019

Iran’s Khamenei renews ban on talks with US

  • Khamenei believes that stopping talks with US is a way to ban their political infiltration
  • ‘Those who believe that negotiations with the enemy will solve our problems are 100% wrong’

DUBAI: Iran will maintain its ban on talks with the United States, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday, describing the two countries as implacable foes a day before the 40th anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran.
“One way to block America’s political infiltration is to ban any talks with America. It means Iran will not yield to America’s pressure. Those who believe that negotiations with the enemy will solve our problems are 100% wrong,” Khamenei, who is Iran’s top authority, was quoted by state TV.

He also poured scorn on French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday for trying to promote talks between the United States and Iran.

“The French president, who says a meeting will end all the problems between Tehran and America, is either naive or complicit with America,” he said in the same speech.

Macron tried to arrange a failed meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.
Relations between the two foes have reached a crisis over the past year after US President Donald Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and world powers under which Tehran accepted curbs to its nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions.
Washington has reimposed sanctions aimed at halting all Iranian oil exports, saying it seeks to force Iran to negotiate to reach a wider deal. Khamenei has banned Iranian officials from holding such talks unless the United States returns to the nuclear deal and lifts all sanctions.
The anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution is marked in Iran with demonstrations of crowds chanting “Death to America” across the country.
The embassy capture cemented the hostility between the two countries which has remained a central fact in Middle East geopolitics and an important part of Iran’s national ideology. Iran, which accused the United States of supporting brutal policies of its ousted Shah, held 52 Americans for 444 days at the embassy, which it called the Den of Spies.
“The US has not changed since decades ago ... it continues the same aggressive, vicious behavior and the same international dictatorship,” Khamenei said.
“America has always borne hostility toward Iran.”


Data leak reveals true scale of Iran’s COVID-19 crisis

Updated 03 August 2020

Data leak reveals true scale of Iran’s COVID-19 crisis

  • Iranian outbreak, already the worst in the Middle East, is far more serious than initially reported.
  • Tehran’s cover up of the true virus toll is consistent with their reaction to previous embarrassing incidents.

LONDON: A data leak from within Iran has revealed that the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 is nearly three times higher than the figures reported by the government.

The data, which was passed to the BBC Persian service, shows almost 42,000 people died with COVID-19 symptoms up to July 20, nearly triple the 14,405 reported by its health ministry.

The number of infections is also far higher than that admitted by the government: 451,024 as opposed to the 278,827 disclosed by Tehran.

Undercounting cases is common across the world due to limited testing capacity, but the BBC’s information reveals that Iranian authorities reported significantly lower daily numbers, despite having a record of all deaths — suggesting the figures were deliberately suppressed.

The data leak also shows that the first recorded case of the virus in Iran was on Jan. 22 — a month before the government acknowledged any cases.

Already the center of the Middle East’s virus outbreak, Tehran’s cover-up of early cases and its failure to swiftly act on the outbreak likely accelerated the spread of the virus across the region.

The BBC received the data from an anonymous source, who told them they shared the data to “shed light on the truth” and to end “political games” over the epidemic.

The data supplied includes details of daily admissions to hospitals across Iran, including names, age, gender, symptoms, date and length of periods spent in hospital, and underlying conditions patients might have.

The overall trend of cases and deaths in the leaked data is similar to official reports, but different in size.

Dr Nouroldin Pirmoazzen, a former Iranian MP who was an official at the health ministry and is now living in the US, told the BBC that the government was “anxious and fearful of the truth” when COVID-19 hit Iran.

He said: “The government was afraid that the poor and the unemployed would take to the streets.”

The Iranian health ministry maintains that the country’s reports to the World Health Organization on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are “transparent” and “far from any deviations.”

The cover-up of the true scale of their COVID-19 crisis is not unusual behaviour from the regime. A number of incidents have brought a similar response in 2020 alone.

In January, Iran shot down a Ukrainian jet near Tehran, killing all passengers on board. The regime hid its actions for three days, only acknowledging wrongdoing as public pressure mounted through protests.

Then Iranian nuclear and military facilities were the target of a series of sabotages, explosions, and cyberattacks, but Tehran has attempted to conceal what happened at virtually every step of the way.