The White House said on Thursday that the Biden administration does not know what is causing Iran’s apparent poisoning of schoolgirls, and called on the Iranian government to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation.
“It is very worrying news coming out of Iran. This – what, what could be the poisoning of young girls just starting school,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “The truth is that at this point we don’t know what causes those conditions. We are seeing reports that the Iranian government is investigating, that is the right course of action.
“We want those investigations to be thorough and complete and we want them to be transparent. Little girls going to school should only have to worry about learning. They shouldn’t have to worry about their own physical safety, but we just don’t.” I don’t know enough now,” he added.
Kirby would not say whether the US would consider sanctions in response to deliberate poisoning. He also wouldn’t say whether the US would fool the Iranian investigation.
“Let’s see what the results are here before we make any kind of snap judgment,” he said. “We need to know, the world needs to know, especially those little girls’ families need to know.”
Over the past three months, hundreds of young girls attending various schools in Iran appeared to be overwhelmed by what are believed to be noxious fumes wafting into their classrooms, with some ending up weakened on hospital beds, state media and the AP reported.
Iranian theocracy officials initially dismissed these incidents, but are now describing them as deliberate attacks involving some 30 schools identified in local media reports, with some speculating that they could be aimed at closing schools to saturate girls in this country of more than 80 million people, according to media.
On Sunday, Iran’s state news agency IRNA filed multiple stories in which officials acknowledged the magnitude of the crisis.
“After several poisonings of students in Qom schools, it appeared that some people wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed,” IRNA quoted Younes Panahi, a deputy health minister as saying.
A spokesperson for the Health Ministry, Pedram Pakaieen, said the poisoning was not from a virus or microbe, but did not elaborate either.
Ali Reza Monadi, a member of the national parliament who sits on the education committee, described the poisonings as “intentional”.
The “existence of the devil’s will to prevent girls from getting an education is a grave danger and is considered very bad news,” he said, according to IRNA. “We must try to find roots” of this.