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US Set To Block Iran’s $5bn IMF Loan Request To Help Fight COVID-19

As Iran continues to suffer heavily under both the US-led sanctions as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is the ordinary citizens and those most vulnerable who will pay the heaviest price. 

The United States is set to block Iran’s newest request for a $5 billion emergency loan from the IMF to help respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the country. The US claims that Iran would use this money to support “its adventurism abroad, not to buy medicine for Iranians”. This is only the latest in the US’ continued abuse of Iran through heavy sanctions, as well as its claims that Iran uses international loans and donations to fund terrorism in the region.

An official from the Trump administration told Middle East Eye on Wednesday:

The world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism is seeking cash to fund its adventurism abroad, not to buy medicine for Iranians. The regime’s corrupt officials have a long history of diverting funds allocated for humanitarian goods into their own pockets and to their terrorist proxies.”

The United States effectively holds a veto at the IMF, meaning that it has the power to halt the possible loan that could be given to Iran to help combat the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Iran has been one of the hardest-hit countries in regards to the virus – according to the World Health Organization, Iran has more than 64,500 cases and almost 4,000 deaths. There has been much speculation, however, that the real numbers are much higher.

The US-led sanctions on Iran have also only made the situation worse – and despite pleas from human rights groups and activists on the ground in Iran and across the world, the US has no plans in suspending its sanctions campaign on Iran. Hitting innocent civilians and those most vulnerable, the sanctions have heavily damaged Iran’s economy even before the tragic effects of COVID-19 – now Iran is seeing shortages of medical supplies and essential goods, as well as an even more declining state of affairs for the economy and the livelihoods of ordinary citizens.

US Adds New Sanctions Against Iran Despite Ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated in a televised cabinet meeting on Wednesday in regards to the request for the loan:

I urge international organisations to fulfill their duties…We are a member of the IMF. There should be no discrimination in giving loans. If they do not act on their duties in this difficult situation, the world will judge them in a different way.”

Iran has requested funds from the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument, an emergency program that gives aid to countries facing emergency disasters. According to the IMF, a Rapid Financing Instrument “is available to all member countries facing an urgent balance of payments needed”. As an IMF member, Iran is now claiming that the bias given towards Iran in the possible withholding of loans is discriminatory.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council’s Secretary, Ali Shamkhani, stated:

US opposition to granting Iran’s requested facilities from IMF to provide items needed to deal with coronavirus is a real case of crimes against humanity.”

Rouhani has also called the US’ actions towards Iran as economic terrorism, stating: “The US sanctions on Iran are economic and medical terrorism…They are in violation of international medical conventions. It will go down in history that the White House, which was engaged in economic terrorism so far, is now a terrorist in health issues, too”.

As Iran continues to suffer heavily under both the US-led sanctions as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is the ordinary citizens and those most vulnerable who will pay the heaviest price.

It now becomes imperative that citizens from around the world pressure their local politicians, community leaders, and human rights groups to vocally oppose the US-led sanctions on Iran – it remains a matter of life and death as Iran’s death toll from COVD-19 only continues to grow.

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