The U.S. has offered disaster assistance to Iran in the wake of a devastating earthquake that left more than 300 people dead, but an Iranian official declined the offer.
“The American people send the Iranian people our deepest condolences for the loss of life in the tragic earthquake in northwestern Iran,” a White House statement said. “Our thoughts are with the families of those who were lost, and we wish the wounded a speedy recovery. We stand ready to offer assistance in this difficult time.”
Iran, however, declined the help, saying it was handling the matter internally. “We will carry out relief work by relying on our domestic potential,” Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar told Bloomberg.
The two nations are involved in a bitter dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, and the U.S. and its western allies have imposed harsh sanctions on Iran this year. The U.S. claims the country is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran maintains it is enriching uranium for domestic energy purposes.
The earthquake left thousands of citizens homeless or injured. Iran’s Red Crescent Society has established accommodations for 16,000 people and set up 5,600 tents, according to Bloomberg. The country has also announced plans for two days of mourning in the province of East Azerbaijan, the region hit by the quake.
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