Category Archives: Iran

G77, China call for immediate lifting of sanctions against Iran

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US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Representatives of the Group of 77 at the United Nations and China participate in a meeting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 2014.

The Group of 77 (G77) and China have highlighted the negative effects of unilateral sanctions on the Iranian nation’s prosperity, calling for the lifting of the inhumane measures as soon as possible.

In a declaration issued on Thursday, the foreign ministers of the coalition of 134 developing countries plus China expressed their objection to the anti-Iran sanctions.

The statement followed the 44th annual meeting of the group, which was held via virtual platform.

“The Ministers reaffirmed their rejection of the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran, which have a negative impact on the development and prosperity of the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in this regard called for an immediate lifting of those sanctions,” the declaration read.

Iran has been under a series of illegal sanctions imposed by the US since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The US unleashed the so-called maximum pressure campaign and targeted the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” restrictive measures.

In recent months, Washington has been tightening its oppressive sanctions against the Islamic Republic, defying warnings from Tehran and international human rights organizations that the restrictions are severely hampering the Iranian health sector’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

Elsewhere in their statement, the G77 and Chinese foreign ministers hailed the JCPOA as an example of “a successful multilateral action for resolving outstanding global issues.”

“The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of supporting and strengthening multilateralism, and, in this regard, recognized that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the other parties is a concrete case of a successful multilateral action for resolving outstanding global issues, stressed that such model sets a real example for further accelerating the achievement of sustainable development including by strengthening international cooperation, through enhanced means of implementation,” they said.

The ministers further exchanged views on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the recent developments in the world and the particular challenges faced by developing countries in the economic, social and environmental areas.

They also stressed that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions remains the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

Iran Foreign Ministry: Time for intl. community to stop US war machines

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US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

The file photo taken on September 8, 2003 shows US forces manning a checkpoint in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. (By AFP)

Iran says it is high time the international community stood up to Washington’s historical warmongering policy, commenting on the Memorial Day in the US that remembers America’s wartime fatalities.

“Time to stand against US violence, warmongering, as remembering millions of lost lives,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry tweeted on Tuesday, a day after the United States commemorated the occasion, which is marked annually on the last Monday of May.

“Regretful that 100,000 American soldiers killed in battles waged because of US leaders’ instrumental rationality & insatiable greed,” the tweet read. “US war machines have just led to killing, destruction, [and] atrocities.”

America’s history of armed incursions is as old as the country, whose very foundation is owed to the deadly invasion of North American territories.

Across modern history, the US’s militarism has most notably been reflected in the Vietnam War (1955-1975), which is bitterly brought to the fore on Memorial Day. Estimates of the fatalities resulting from the war go as high as 4.2 million people, including 58,209 US forces.

In what has become the longest war in its history, the US along with its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a so-called war on terror. The invasion — which is still underway — toppled the Taliban regime but the Afghan group’s militancy remains resilient to this day. The chaos has also led to the rise of Daesh, the world’s most notorious terror outfit, in the Asian state.

According to the latest figures, over 2,400 US military deaths have been recorded in the war, while over 20,000 American service members have been wounded.

More than 100,000 Afghans have also been killed or wounded since 2009, when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began documenting casualties.

Washington’s first major incursion in the Middle East came in the form of the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s in favor of Saudi Arabia. A decade afterwards, the US began planting its jackboot far more firmly in the region by invading Iraq in 2003, a wholesale war that turned the country into a scene of rampant violence.

Nevertheless, Washington has never fallen short of finding excuses to militarily intervene in the region along with its allies

The most recent bout of US-led operations in the Middle East came in 2014, when the US and its allies began a military campaign in Iraq and Syria under the guise of uprooting Daesh, which had risen amid the chaos resulting from Washington’s own wars in the region.

Washington has, throughout its history, also been lending immense political and military support to the regional regimes that are responsible for killing and displacing tens of thousands of people in pursuit of their political agendas.


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US Pirates of the Caribbean

“American global power right now is seen as a farce. It has been devastated by a virus and shown to be a lying cheat over its attempt to smear China and the World Health Organization. Its sanctioning against nations struggling with a deadly disease is barbaric terrorism; and while millions of Americans are facing poverty, the US is sending warships and warplanes to all corners of the world.”
sputniknews.com
May 21, 2020

You have to be amused at this headline: “US masses planes at Japan airbase to show foes and allies it can handle coronavirus,” reports Reuters.

So, let’s get this straight. At a time when the US is leading the world with deaths and infections from the disease, the Pentagon views flexing muscles with warplanes in the Asia Pacific is somehow a demonstration of American potency.

While the American public is crying out for more resources to cope with the pandemic, Washington sees fit to ramp up militarism not just in the Asia Pacific, but also in the Arctic region, the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean.

US warships despatched to the Caribbean are said to be on a mission to counter-narcotic trafficking. Few people will buy that pretext. The military force is deployed as a threat to Venezuela and its socialist government which the Trump administration has openly targeted for regime change.

A failed coup attempt earlier this month involving a private US mercenary outfit may or may not have had official support from the White House.

But one thing is clear: when Russia proposed a statement of support for Venezuela at the UN Security Council this week in which the failed coup was denounced as a violation of the UN charter forbidding aggression, the draft statement was “killed” by Washington’s envoy.

The implication is that Washington’s public position sees nothing wrong with aggression despite the flagrant violation of international law that it involves.

In that case, it could be expected that the US will attempt to block Iranian oil tankers en route to Venezuela. If aggression is acceptable to Washington then why not also a bit of high-seas piracy?

Five Iranian-flagged tankers are due to dock in the South American country in the coming days. They are reportedly ferrying $45 million worth of gasoline to alleviate Venezuela’s crippled economy as it struggles like many other nations to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Venezuela is a major exporter of crude oil but due to US sanctions its capacity to refine fuel has been decimated. This has caused severe shortages for Venezuelan transport which has, in turn, exacerbated the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both Venezuela and Iran have warned the US to not interfere in the sea passage of the oil tankers. Both countries have been burdened with American sanctions, but they are legally entitled to conduct bilateral trade. If US warships impede the transport, then it will be viewed by Venezuela and Iran as an act of piracy. We might add that the rest of the world will view it that way too. An act of piracy compounding acts of economic aggression under heartless US sanctions.

Given the pandemic crisis, Iran’s supply of vital fuel to Venezuela is not merely a normal trade transaction, but a courageous act of solidarity and humanitarian aid.

The Trump administration has mischievously indicated it will do something to stop the Iranian ships reaching Venezuela. What that something is open to guesswork. Will it use its warships in the Caribbean to mount a blockade?

Iran has warned it will retaliate. Perhaps by attacking American warships in the Persian Gulf, where skirmishing has already taken place.

Venezuela says it is sending naval forces to escort the Iranian tankers once they arrive in its territorial waters.

In the next coming days, a showdown awaits which could have explosive repercussions, not least because the Iranian tankers are reckoned to contain 1.5 million barrels of gasoline.

The US head of Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller, this week played down the probability of an armed confrontation with the Iranian vessels.

He is quoted as saying: “You have to ask yourself what interest Iran has in Venezuela, where we have seen recent indications of Iranian military and state support?”

Eh, let’s guess Admiral Faller, maybe simply an act of solidarity by two nations who are under the boot of American imperialism and illegal sanctions that amount to a crime against humanity.

American global power right now is seen as a farce. It has been devastated by a virus and shown to be a lying cheat over its attempt to smear China and the World Health Organization. Its sanctioning against nations struggling with a deadly disease is barbaric terrorism; and while millions of Americans are facing poverty, the US is sending warships and warplanes to all corners of the world.Washington won’t dare do piracy in the Caribbean at this juncture. Because it can’t afford another fiasco. Its global image is already in tatters.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Trump Claims to Have Venezuela ‘Surrounded’ as Iranian Tankers Approach

Dear American government, you are scum, you are bloody scum for preventing a nation from eating and living just because they don’t want your corrupt system of thinking. Scum.

Venezuela’s armed forces will escort the vessels upon reaching territorial waters.

US President Donald Trump issued new threats against Venezuela on Wednesday.

“We’ve got it [Venezuela] surrounded, it’s surrounded at a level that nobody even knows but they know. We are watching to see what happens,” he warned during a conference call with Hispanic leaders.

The president’s remarks come amid escalating tensions over Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela.

Five Iranian tankers are en route to the South American country carrying at least US $45.5 million in gasoline and other products. According to maritime tracking data, the closest vessel, Fortune, is currently three days from port.

Washington is mulling unilateral sanctions aimed at halting the shipments, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Last month, Trump ordered the mobilization of US naval assets to the Caribbean in an “anti-drug” operation targeting Venezuela described as one of the largest military deployments in the region since the 1989 invasion of Panama. The US leader had previously threatened Venezuela with a naval blockade.

Caracas and Tehran have rejected US threats against the tankers, which are estimated to contain enough fuel to supply Venezuela for around 50 days.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez revealed that naval and air assets would escort the Iranian vessels upon entering Venezuela’s territorial waters.

Venezuela is currently suffering widespread gasoline shortages, with domestic production hamstrung by US sanctions prohibiting the import of vital diluents and spare parts needed to reactivate the country’s refining capacity.

Since 2017, the Trump administration has targeted Venezuela with crushing economic sanctions, including an oil embargo blocking fuel exports to the Caribbean country as well as a blanket ban on dealings with Venezuelan state entities.

In recent months, the US Treasury Department has imposed secondary sanctions on two affiliates of Russian energy giant Rosneft, which had been carrying up to 60 percent of Venezuela’s crude output in addition to supplying diesel and gasoline.

Following the departure of Rosneft, Tehran has stepped in to provide fuel as well as technical assistance in repairing Venezuela’s largest refinery, which has been offline since last year’s nationwide blackouts. The Trump administration has likewise threatened Iran over its technical air corridor to Venezuela, calling on other countries to suspend Iranian overflight rights.

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Featured image: Venezuelan ships and airplanes will escort the Iranian tankers once they enter Venezuelan waters. (Military Watch Magazine)

Iran oil shipment: Venezuelan military to escort fuel tankers

It is shameful that Venezuala must protect its goods from attacks from rogue countries (only one) that defy international law. 

Venezuela says its military will escort five Iranian tankers, bringing oil to ease severe shortages.

Source

http://www.aljazeera.com

May 21, 2020

A new standoff could be brewing between the United States, Iran, and Venezuela over a shipment of millions of dollars of fuel.

Five Iranian oil tankers are just days away from arriving in Venezuela to help ease fuel shortages there.

Venezuela’s own oil refining industry collapsed; critics say that was because of underinvestment and mismanagement.

Al Jazeera’s Alexi O’Brien reports.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

US Headed For Another ‘Tanker War’ With Iran – This Time Off Venezuela’s Coast

Up your sanctions America, this world does not belong to you alone.  Learn to share the planet ye greedy bastards!

Iranian state TV has announced at least five Iranian-flagged tankers are transporting fuel to Venezuela through the Atlantic Ocean and plan to break the American blockade on the Latin American country.

Iran has warned that any US attempt at intercepting its fuel tankers “would have serious repercussions for the Trump administration ahead of the November elections.”

File image via National Iranian Oil Tanker Company (NITC)

State-funded PressTV underscores that “Iran is shipping tons of gasoline to Venezuela in defiance of US sanctions on both countries in a symbolic move guaranteed by Tehran’s missile prowess.”

Both countries have been targeted under US sanctions and various levels of covert military action of late. President Trump has taken a personal interest in renewed pressure on Maduro, within the past months reportedly pushing his generals to go forward with a ‘naval blockade’ of the socialist nation.

State media has further emphasized that the Iranian fuel tankers will not attempt to conceal their presence or mission: “Iran has intentionally hoisted its own flag over the huge tankers which are navigating through the Atlantic before the eyes of the US Navy,” according to the report.

Reuters has also reported that US defense officials are planning a potential response:

The United States has a “high degree of certainty” that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government is paying Iran tons of gold for the fuel, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is not only unwelcome by the United States but it’s unwelcome by the region, and we’re looking at measures that can be taken,” the official said.

The contentious issue of closer ties between Tehran and Caracas became center stage after in April a series of sanctioned Iranian Mahan Air flights landed in Venezuela to transport badly needed equipment to fix fuel refining plants for domestic gas consumption amid a severe national shortage.

Reuters Venezuela

@ReutersVzla

Exclusive: U.S. weighs measures in response to Iran fuel shipment to – source https://reut.rs/3btmGBD

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Trump regime lies, deception, arrogance, and threats to humanity

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By Stephen Lendman
US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on May 7, 2020, in the Oval office of the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

 

The Trump regime exceeds the worst of its predecessors — headed by a militantly hostile to peace, equity, and justice/profoundly ignorant and arrogant president.

He and the criminal gang infesting his regime threaten everyone at home and abroad.

They bear full responsibility for a US public health crisis, economic collapse, and increasing human misery affecting most Americans and countless millions abroad.

They’re guilty of the highest of high crimes against humanity, accountability nowhere in prospect.

Their anti-China rages risk confrontation with a nation able to hit back hard against an aggressor if attacked.

Yet US aerial and naval provocations occur regularly near its territory.

Pentagon warships and heavy bombers were deployed to Guam for purposes of harassing China.

In response to recent provocations, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intends to move its Shandong aircraft carrier group to South China Sea waters to defend its territory from hostile US actions.

Days earlier, two Pentagon supersonic bombers flew a 32-hour roundtrip from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota to the South China Sea, an air force statement saying:

“The (provocative) mission demonstrated(d) (its) dynamic force employment model in line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability with persistent bomber presence” to challenge its adversaries.

In late April, one or more US supersonic bombers provocatively participated with Japanese warplanes in the Sea Japan near North Korean waters.

Beijing warned the Trump regime that it won’t tolerate US intrusions in its territorial waters. Pentagon warships entering them will be expelled.

Days earlier China’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said “reality has proven once again that the US is the biggest facilitator of the militarization of the South China Sea, and is a trouble-maker for the region’s peace and stability,” adding:

“The PLA will remain on high alert, and adamantly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests, as well as the peace and prosperity of the region.”

In response to Trump regime Big Lies and deception about China, the country’s official broadsheet People’s Daily denounced its mishandled COVID-19 and economic collapse response, saying:

“The tragedy that is happening in America is actually a humanitarian crisis resulting from the incompetence of the (Trump regime) in dealing with (COVID-19) outbreak(s)” and dire economic hard times.

“While lives and families in America are being put in danger, what are the politicians doing?”

Trump spent a weekend golfing at Camp David, while “Pompeo repeated his claims that he had a lot of evidence that the novel coronavirus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, but failed to provide any of it” because it doesn’t exist.

“While turning a blind eye to (its own) humanitarian crisis,” it’s “stir(ring) up trouble” in other parts of the world.

China’s Global Times (GT) said the Trump regime “attacks on China are a desperate attempt “to divert attention from reality.”

The whole world knows US claims lack credibility. While Trump and hardliners surrounding him play the blame game, America leads the world in COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths, numbers increasing daily — one-third of the former, 28% of the latter.

The US has around 4% of the world’s population. Its science community and healthcare system are state-of-the-art.

Yet its indifference to public health and bungled COVID-19 response is the shame of the Trump regime and nation.

Iran far ahead of US in containing COVID-19 outbreak

Despite all-out US war on Iran by other means, Tehran University Professor Mohammad Marandi explained that its authorities began combating the coronavirus straightaway as soon as the first case was discovered — polar opposite the Trump regime’s botched response that continues to this day.

Marandi slammed the US for “weaponiz(ing) the coronavirus for the Iranian people by prohibiting Iran from using the banking sector, by prohibiting Iran from purchasing goods from important pharmaceutical companies.”

“The United States has put so many conditions on different pharmaceutical companies across the world, that they will not work with Iran.”

Despite enormous constraints imposed on the country by the Trump regime, Iran is far ahead of the US in containing COVID-19 outbreaks.

It developed its own diagnostic test kits for domestic use and export.

Widespread testing goes on daily. Numbers infected so far number about 105,000.

Around 80% of patients recovered, 2,700 still in serious condition. Around 6,500 died.

Many infected Iranians displayed mild symptoms and were treated on an outpatient basis.

The coronavirus remains a threat, but Iranian public health authorities are bringing it under control.

According to Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki, “the country is in the phase of disease management…”

“Today is the time for full-fledged combat against the virus. God willing, we will control coronavirus by late May. The virus should be controlled in the minimum possible time.”

On Friday, the daily death toll of 55 was the lowest number since outbreaks began around three months ago.

In the US, thousands of outbreaks and deaths occur daily, with no end of them in prospect.

A final comment

On Friday, China’s Global Times (GT) noted that US House GOP minority leader Kevin McCarthy announced the establishment of an anti-China task force to deal with a threat by Beijing to the US that doesn’t exist, adding:

No matter which right-wing of the US one-party state runs things, hostility toward China will continue because of its growing preeminence on the world stage.

In response, Beijing “needs to prepare for a long-term challenge,” said GT, adding:

“First (it must) strengthen and enhance (its) core scientific technology and military-strategic power.”

“The US (aims) to strangle China with technology export restrictions.”

“China must stick to its bottom line and prepare for (a) worst-case scenario” with a hostile US.

Stephen Lendman, born in 1934 in Boston, started writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.

Lendman’s newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

600 people die in Iran from drinking neat alcohol to cure coronavirus

600 people die in Iran from drinking neat alcohol to cure coronavirus

http://www.middleeastmonitor.com

April 8, 2020

Moonshine,still,alcohol,vintage,old - free image from needpix.com
Moonshine,still,alcohol,vintage,old

More than 600 Iranians have died from the consumption of high-concentrated alcohol believing it protects against the coronavirus.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted a spokesperson for the Iranian judiciary, Ghulam Hussein Ismaili, as saying that the number of deaths due to drinking neat alcohol had reached a disturbing figure, adding that more than 3,000 people had been poisoned after drinking toxic beverages in an effort to treat the disease.

He pointed out that many alcoholic drinks that were produced illegally in Iran lack the required standards, adding that a number of people have been arrested as a result of this.

As of Tuesday afternoon, as many as 3,872 have died of the coronavirus in the Islamic Republic while the number of infections reached 63,589.

Iran Launches US Fury

“Washington’s presumed global empire is all washed up. Its disgraceful dereliction towards American public health is abundantly clear. Its bullying of China, Russia, Venezuela, and others is futile. Its navy is impotent from COVID-19 sick sailors aboard billion-dollar warships. And Iran, hammered by US sanctions, is able to make a landmark satellite achievement while beating the US in terms of managing a pandemic. No wonder the Americans are livid.”
sputniknews.com
by 
April 24,2020

No wonder the US reacted with fury this week when Iran launched a satellite 465 kilometers into space. In baseball terms, the Iranians just hit the US ball out of the park.

Mike Pompeo, America’s top diplomat, is demanding more sanctions against Iran over what he claimed was a violation of UN resolutions outlawing Iranian military missiles in space. He called on the “Iranian regime” to prioritise resources in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and to end its campaign of global terror”.

You have to hand it to Pompeo for his total lack of awareness of America’s own absurdity.

Pompeo cited UN Resolution 2231 which pertains to the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran – the same accord that the Trump administration dumped in May 2018. So, Washington wants Iran to abide by resolutions relating to a treaty that is non-existent, as far as the US is concerned.

In any case, Iran says that its communication satellite does not violate UN resolutions because it is not for an offensive military purpose. Russia has reportedly backed the Iranian viewpoint.

Pompeo points to the involvement of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the launch as somehow indicative of malign intent ignoring the fact that military and space technology are historically deeply entwined. None more so than in the US space ventures, which originated from Nazi V2 rocket science.

© REUTERS / WANA NEWS AGENCY
A first military satellite named Noor is launched into orbit by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, in Semnan, Iran April 22, 2020.

The US lecturing to Iran about a military satellite comes only weeks after President Trump has ordered the establishment of a new Space Force which opens up weaponization of space – in contravention of an international treaty forbidding such development.

Pompeo’s call on Iran to “prioritise resources” to meet the “demands of the Iranian people” (an oblique reference to the COVID-19 crisis) is made while the US leads the world in the number of infections and deaths from the disease.

The abject fiasco of Washington not being able to better contain the pandemic is a result of chronically underfunded health services in the US. This is while the US sends warships to the Persian Gulf – 10,000 kilometers from its shores – to carry out naval maneuvers threatening Iranian security and the security of the wider region. Just who is waging a global terror campaign?

Pompeo’s piffle about “prioritising resources” comes from a regime in Washington that spends more than $750 billion on the military every year. That’s nearly 57 times the estimated $13 billion that Iran spends. And, by the way, five times more than China, and more than 10 times Russia’s military budget.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
© REUTERS / ANDREW HARNIK/POOL NEW
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

American citizens’ demand for better healthcare could be easily met if its monstrously profligate military expenditure was redirected. The failure of the US public health system is made all the more apparent by the current COVID-19 crisis.

The US pandemic death toll is this week heading above 50,000 compared with Iran’s figure of 5,300. Considering the respective population numbers of 330 and 80 million that suggests Iran is doing a much better job at containing the virus. On a per-capita basis, according to publicly available data, Iran’s mortality rate is less than half that of the US.

This is while the US has sanctioned Iran to the hilt. American sanctions – arguably illegal under international law – have hit Iran’s ability to import medical supplies to cope with COVID-19 and other fatal diseases, yet Iran through its own resources is evidently managing the crisis much better than the US.

To top it all, Iran this week was able to launch its first satellite into space. The Iranians deserve applause for their technological achievement-based entirely on their own resources and ingenuity of their scientists.

What’s really motivating Washington’s ire is that its criminal and barbaric sanctions policy is shown – spectacularly – to be an abysmal flop. Even with so many resources at its disposal, the US has failed to thwart the Iranian nation.

A handout picture provided by the Iranian Presidency on April 15, 2020 shows Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wearing a face mask during a cabinet session in the capital Tehran
© AFP 2020 / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY
A handout picture provided by the Iranian Presidency on April 15, 2020 shows Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wearing a face mask during a cabinet session in the capital Tehran

This is why Pompeo is blustering now about appealing to other nations to impose more international sanctions. The US sanctions alone and its campaign of bullying and terrorism have failed, and it is desperately trying to dragoon others to join its heartless policy – under the guise of UN resolutions.

It would also explain Trump’s crazed order this week to the US navy to “shoot down” Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf. 

Washington’s presumed global empire is all washed up. Its disgraceful dereliction towards American public health is abundantly clear. Its bullying of China, Russia, Venezuela, and others is futile. Its navy is impotent from COVID-19 sick sailors aboard billion-dollar warships. And Iran, hammered by US sanctions, is able to make a landmark satellite achievement while beating the US in terms of managing a pandemic. No wonder the Americans are livid.

Merchants of Death: Multibillion-dollar Bailout for Arms Industry Amid Rising COVID-19 Toll

 

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” US President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday in a startling threat that could trigger a catastrophic war throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The threat to launch a war 7,000 miles from US shores in the midst of coronavirus pandemic, whose death toll in the US is rapidly approaching 50,000, comes on the heels of Trump’s Monday night tweet announcing a suspension of all immigration into the United States, a transparent attempt to scapegoat immigrants for the ravages of the pandemic and the layoffs of tens of millions of workers.

There is in both of these actions an expression of desperation and a flailing about in the face of a national and global crisis for which the US ruling class has no viable solution. It is a crude attempt to change the subject and divert public attention from the catastrophic consequences of the criminal indifference of the government and the ruling oligarchy it represents to the lives and well-being of the vast majority of the population.

Pentagon officials reported Wednesday that they had received no prior notification of Trump’s tweet, much less any orders for a change in the rules of engagement in the Persian Gulf.

Nonetheless, the brutal and fascistic rhetoric of Trump reflects a drive to war by US imperialism that has not been tempered, but rather intensified, by the global pandemic.

Even as Trump issued his tweet, US warships were sailing toward a confrontation with China in the South China Sea. At the same time, the Pentagon was announcing a shift in its deployment of long-range, nuclear capable B-52 bombers to make their presence less predictable to Beijing and Moscow and thereby ratchet up tensions.

In recent days, the US has sharply escalated its air strikes against the impoverished African nation of Somalia, even as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to ravage its population. Escalating war threats continue against Venezuela, and the Pentagon continues to provide support for the near-genocidal Saudi-led war against the people of Yemen.

Nowhere does this war drive find more naked expression than in the massive government bailout that is being organized for the US arms industry. With tens of millions of workers unemployed, many facing hunger, and a drive by both the Trump administration and state governors to force a premature return to work, billions upon billions of dollars are being lavished upon military contractors to sustain their guaranteed profits and the obscene fortunes generated for their major shareholders.

The Pentagon’s top weapons procurer, Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord, told a press conference Monday that some $3 billion has already been funneled to the arms makers in the form of early payments for existing contracts, in addition to billions more approved by Congress in the first CARES Act, which pumped trillions of dollars into the financial markets. She indicated that much more will be doled out once Congress passes another stimulus package.

Asked by a reporter how much would be need to insure Washington’s Merchants of Death from any losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, she replied, “We’re talking billions and billions on that one.” Lord added that the first priority for this aid program was the “modernization process of the nuclear triad.”

These industries are hardly the picture of the deserving poor. The fact that massive financial resources that are desperately needed to save lives and rescue millions of workers from poverty are instead being poured into their pockets is a crime.

In a conference call this week to inform Lockheed Martin shareholders of first-quarter earnings, the company’s CEO, Marilyn Hewson, boasted that the corporation’s “portfolio is broad and expanding” and its “cash generation” strong. She said the company looked forward to “supporting our warfighters’ needs.”

Indeed, Lockheed Martin pulled in $2.3 billion in cash during the single quarter and expects to top $7.6 billion—coronavirus effects notwithstanding—over the year. It has a $144 billion backlog in orders, an all-time high.

Asked whether she had any qualms about political fallout over completing a $1 billion stock buyback in the midst of the crisis, she replied, “We’re very different, I think, than those who have experienced a very significant impact to their demands.” Hewson announced that the company had set aside a grand total of $10 million for COVID-19-related relief and assistance.

The “very different” character of these companies was also noted in a financial column published in the New York Times for the benefit of its well-heeled readers, titled “Opportunity in the Military-Industrial Complex.”

Pointing to the projected $741 billion Pentagon budget for the coming year, the Times counsels: “That combination of federal dollars and corporate heft may represent an opportunity for investors who don’t mind profiting from warfare. A modest bet on a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund that buys military contractors and aerospace companies may help buffer the deep recession brought on by the coronavirus.”

In short, one can reap substantial wealth from—and amid—mass death.

One of the principal concerns expressed by Undersecretary of Defense Lord as she spelled out plans for the multibillion-dollar bailout of the arms industry was the disruption of supply chains, particularly those originating in the maquiladora sweatshops just across the US border in Mexico. She also mentioned problems in India.

Thousands of Mexican workers have struck and protested against the deadly conditions inside these plants, conditions that are being prepared for workers throughout the planet as back-to-work orders are shoved through. At a plant in Ciudad Juárez owned by Michigan-based Lear Corporation, 16 workers have died from COIVD-19, while area hospitals are overflowing with victims of the virus.

The Pentagon and US Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau have intervened with the Mexican government, demanding that the maquiladora workers be forced back into the plants as “essential” to US imperialism’s war machine, just like their counterparts in the US. Lockheed relies on low-paid Mexican workers in Chihuahua, Mexico to produce electrical wiring for the US military’s Black Hawk and S-92 helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, while Boeing gets parts from a plant run by PCC Aerostructures in Monterrey. General Electric, Honeywell and other military contractors also profit off the labor of Mexican workers across the border.

Transmitting the dictates of the Pentagon in the language of contempt for human life that characterizes all of the policies of the Trump administration and the US ruling class, Ambassador Landau launched a Twitter campaign demanding that Mexican workers go back into the maquiladoras for the greater good of US imperialism. He enjoys the full collaboration of Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, promoted by the pseudo-left as a “progressive” and even “socialist,” who has prepared the country’s National Guard for deployment against strikers.

Warning that workers’ jobs are tied to supply chains linking them to US arms manufacturers, Ambassador Landau said, “if we do not coordinate our response, these chains can evaporate.”

He added, “There are risks everywhere, but we don’t all stay at home for fear we are going to get in a car accident. The destruction of the economy is also a health threat.”

These are the same reactionary, antiscientific and misanthropic arguments being made in the US and internationally in an attempt to force workers back into the factories and workplaces with the certainty that many will fall sick and die.

Workers in the arms industry in the US, like their counterparts in Mexico, have also struck and protested over being forced to work as part of the “critical infrastructure” of US imperialism. Workers at the Bath Iron Works in Maine and the BAE Systems shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, both run by General Dynamics, have struck over the failure of the employers to provide them with protection against infection and death. Similarly, workers at the GE Aviation plant in Lynn, Massachusetts, which produces engines for US Marine helicopters, picketed the plant over the lack of protective measures or any guarantee for workers who fall victim to COVID-19.

This resistance of the working class across national boundaries is directly opposed to the rabid nationalism and reaction that characterizes the response of the ruling classes, not only in the US, but in Europe and internationally, to the intensification of the capitalist crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. To defend their profit interests, they will condemn millions to sickness and death, even as they prepare for world war and fascist dictatorship. The only alternative is for the international working class to put an end to the profit system and rebuild society on socialist foundations.

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The original source of this article is World Socialist Web Site