(March 29, 2020 / JNS) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the Iranian government is weighing the economic impact of a mass quarantine, as it struggles to control the spread of the coronavirus while under U.S. sanctions.
“Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us. This is not the time to gather followers,” Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting, according to an AP report. “This is not a time for political war,” he added.
Rouhani’s remarks were seemingly a response to criticism of the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Iranian state TV on Sunday reported an additional 123 deaths, bringing the country’s total to 2,640, out of a total of 38,309 infections. Iran has forced non-essential businesses to close and banned travel between cities, according to the AP.
Separately, two Iranian intelligence officers at the country’s consulate in Turkey allegedly instigated the killing in November of an Iranian dissident in Istanbul who had criticized the regime, two senior Turkish officials told Reuters.
Masoud Molavi Vardanjani was shot dead a little more than a year after he left Iran, according to the Turkish officials.
A police report on the killing published two weeks ago said Vardanjani had worked in cyber security at Iran’s Defense Ministry and was a critic of the Iranian government. According to the report, he had posted a message on social media in August against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“I will root out the corrupt mafia commanders. Pray that they don’t kill me before I do this,” the post said.
The arrested suspected shooter and other suspects, that included Turks and Iranians, told authorities that they took orders from two intelligence officers at the Iranian consulate, one of the Turkish officials said.
After the killing, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was “another tragic example in a long string of suspected Iran-backed assassination attempts” of Iranian dissidents, noted the report.
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