Iran is desperately pleading for the International Monetary Fund to approve a $5 billion emergency loan to help the outbreak-ravaged country to survive.
“I urge international organizations to fulfill their duties… we are a member of the IMF… There should be no discrimination in giving loans,” President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks Wednesday.
He further slammed US sanctions on the Islamic Republic as “economic and medical terrorism” — given the US-led near total economic blockade of the country has severely hampered Tehran’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently over 64,500 confirmed cases and as of Wednesday this includes a grim milestone of surpassing 4,000 deaths after months ago Iran became the first epicenter outside China, followed by Italy.
Of course, the U.S. is expected to block the loan:
The U.S. plans to block Iran’s requested $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund for funding Tehran says it needs to fight its coronavirus crisis.
Advocates for sanctions relief say that current sanctions will ultimately make the global response to the pandemic worse for populations in other countries as well, given without Iranian hospitals having necessary access to supplies and crucial medicines, the virus will continue to fester there even after the rest of the world pivots toward recovery.
But as the WSJ reports, Tehran is unlikely to see a single penny in IMF relief:
The IMF has said it is in talks with officials in Iran to determine its eligibility for the loan.
However, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the US – the IMF’s largest shareholder – planned to block the request.
It cited senior Trump administration officials as saying that Iran’s government had billions of dollars in bank accounts still at its disposal, and that the loan might be used to help its economy rather than on combating Covid-19 or fund terrorist operations.
In early March Iran’s Central Bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati first addressed a letter to the head of the IMF requesting the five billion dollars from the RFI emergency fund “to help our fight against the coronavirus”.
US administration gleefully takes pride in killing Iranians citizens on #Nowruz—our New Year.
The White House takes its “maximum pressure” to a new level of inhumanity with its utter contempt for human life.
Iran to US: Your policy will live in infamy. But Iran won’t break. pic.twitter.com/2xGWG8xxH8
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 20, 2020
At that time Iran’s death toll was 500, but now stands at just over 4,000.
Iran has argued that it is “a dues-paying member of the IMF and has not had a loan in decades,” according to the assessment of Mohammad Marandi, professor of American Studies at Tehran University.
“As a country that has paid its dues and without any debt to the IMF, Iran is entitled to a loan to fight the coronavirus pandemic at the time when the US has weaponised the virus against Iran,” Marandi added.