Iran’s Rouhani urges IMF to give Tehran $5 billion coronavirus loan

Reuters – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday the International Monetary Fund would be guilty of “discriminatory behaviour” unless it provides $5 billion in emergency funding to help Tehran fight the coronavirus outbreak.

“I urge international organisations to fulfil their duties … we are a member of the IMF … There should be no discrimination in giving loans,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.

Iran’s central bank chief, Abdolnaser Hemmati, wrote last month to the IMF to request $5 billion from the Fund’s Rapid Financing Initiative, an emergency programme that aids countries faced with sudden shocks such as natural disasters.

An IMF official has said the Fund is in dialogue with Iranian authorities over the request for financial aid, with talks aimed at understanding Iran’s needs and what is required for Iran’s demand to be processed.

The escalating coronavirus outbreak in Iran – the worst-affected country in the Middle East – has killed 3,872 people and infected 62,589.

The outbreak has further damaged Iran’s economy, already battered by U.S. sanctions, reimposed since 2018 when Washington exited Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers.

Tehran has blamed the United States and its “maximum pressure” policy for restricting Iran’s ability to respond effectively to the virus.

“The U.S. sanctions on Iran are economic and medical terrorism … They are in violation of international conventions,” Rouhani said.

U.S. officials have said that the sanctions do not target medicine for Iran and Washington had offered to help Tehran face the outbreak. Iran has dismissed the offer as ridiculous.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Catherine Evans