WASHINGTON—Declaring that the coronavirus pandemic should not affect America’s hardline stance against the Middle Eastern republic, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned Tuesday that he strongly suspected Iran of stockpiling tubes to build a ventilator. “Iran has repeatedly ignored our messages to refrain from building up a medical arsenal, and new intelligence shows that the regime could have a fully functional ventilator up and running in as little as a few weeks,” said Pompeo, adding that satellite images taken by U.S. spy planes appeared to show Iranian scientists assembling a cache of medical-grade valves. “There are also credible reports that Iran has acquired high-grade extension cords, and the regime refuses to deny that these cables could be used to power ventilators. This is clearly an effort to undermine American influence in the region, and one that could save thousands of Iranian lives. If we fail to act now, Iran will have a fully operational ventilator, which will not only strengthen their medical capacity but could produce a domino effect where they funnel tubes, valves, and knobs to other U.S. adversaries. A ventilator-capable Iran portends a dangerous new era for the world, which is why I call on President Trump to increase sanctions, and, if necessary, explore military action.” Pompeo added that the U.S. would only be willing to negotiate if Iranian officials turned over their entire supply of tubes to the U.N.
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