Iran’s import of COVID-19 test kits hampered by US sanctions, FATF blacklisting

Press TV – Growing economic pressure on Iran has hampered the country’s efforts to confront an outbreak of coronavirus as health bodies face restrictions importing test kits to detect the infection.

A board member at Iran’s Association of Medical Equipment Importers said on Sunday that US sanctions as well as restrictions newly imposed on Iran by a global money laundering watchdog have made it increasingly difficult to access highly-needed test kits for coronavirus.

“Multiple international companies are ready to supply Iran with corona (virus) test kits but we can’t send the money to them,” Ramin Fallah told the ILNA news agency.

Under mounting pressure from Washington, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided on Friday to place Iran on its blacklist, making it more difficult for Iranian banks to settle payments with foreign counterparts.

Fallah said the FATF decision had caused more problems for the Iranian health sector as the country struggles to contain a coronavirus that has caused deaths for eight people while infecting dozens more across the country since earlier this week.

However, the businessman said that Iran would find a way to get round the new bans and have the test kits imported into the country in the upcoming two weeks.

The United States has repeatedly claimed that its unilateral sanctions on Iran, which began two years ago following Washington’s withdrawal from a major nuclear deal with the country, have had no impact at all on Tehran’s access to food and medicine.

However, recurrent reports have suggested that Iranian patients have suffered as a result of restrictions imposed by the US on export of certain medication into Iran.

Washington was even forced to issue a special authorization for the Swiss government last month to launch a financial channel with Iran that could settle payments related to humanitarian items.