Iran's regime deceived public about lack of coronavirus kits – report

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani failed to act against virus

A cleric man wears a protective mask amid concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, at Najaf airport in the holy city of Najaf upon his arrival from Iran (photo credit: REUTERS/ALAA AL-MARJANI)
A cleric man wears a protective mask amid concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, at Najaf airport in the holy city of Najaf upon his arrival from Iran
BERLIN – Iran’s ruling clerical establishment allegedly lied about the lack of coronavirus test kits in connection with sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
The news website Iran International reported on Saturday that it "received documents that disprove the claims made by Iranian officials about the lack of coronavirus test kits In Iran due to sanctions.
"The documents seen by Iran International show that Iranian officials received the first offer to import test kits on January 25.“
The report said that on January 25, the “Fardavar Azma Iranian company, which is the exclusive representative of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, announced its readiness to import coronavirus test kits. Roche is one of the largest manufacturers of corona test kits in the world.”
According to Iran International, “On March 21, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi stated that there was a lack of coronavirus test kits in Iran before February 11. He also blamed the sanctions for hindering Iran’s ability to import coronavirus test kits.”
The companies Rabet Amin International and Sidal Pars, both of which represent two South Korean companies, said they were prepared to “import test kits from South Korea on February 10 and February 15 There is no mention of sanctions as an obstacle to importing the kits in these companies’ responses to the Health Ministry,” wrote Iran International.
Iran has been allowed to receive humanitarian and medical aid via a Swiss channel since February. There has also been a European Union mechanism in place since last year to provide humanitarian and medical goods to Iran.
The website Iran International said that the documents it obtained showed that “several Iranian companies received orders to import coronavirus test kits from December 24 until late February. Arina Life Science, Fardad Azma Rad, Pishgam Biotechnology, and Viragene are among the companies that have been importing test kits into Iran.”
Iran International added that the sourced documents “show the Passive Defense Organization Committee at the Health Ministry held a session on January 25 to follow up on the orders to purchase coronavirus kits, and in this session, COVID-19 was referred to as ‘Corona Outbreak, A New Virus.”’
The reported continued that “Recent evidence that Iran International had previously published also disproves the claims made by President Hassan Rouhani about Islamic Republic officials being unaware of the coronavirus outbreak before February 19, and shows that in fact, they were aware of it weeks earlier.”
On Sunday, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei flatly rejected US aid to alleviate the country’s growing coronavirus outbreak. 
The Guardian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan, who previously covered the Iran beat for the British daily, claimed in a 2018 article that Iran International has links to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are opponents in the Middle East.
The 2018 Guardian article stated: “Exclusive: Iran International funded by firm with ties to Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
However, the article added that “The contents of this article are disputed by Iran International and its operator DMA Media Limited and a statement by them is published at the end of the article.”
In response to The Guardian article,“Iran International has denied the allegations that it has any connection to any governments, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
Kamali Dehghan was taken off the Iran beat and was interned last month in a psychiatric hospital in London. In a response to a Jerusalem Post press query, The Guardian declined to comment about Kamali Dehghan’s reassignment.