Politico | JACOPO BARIGAZZI: Tehran asked for $5 million from the IMF, but the United States said no.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, on Wednesday criticized the U.S. for blocking an Iranian request for a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
“I regret that … the United States are opposing the International Monetary Fund to take this decision,” he said during a virtual press conference at the end of a video meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers. “From the humanitarian point of view, this decision, this request should have been accepted.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter at the beginning of March that IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva “has stated that countries affected by #COVID19 will be supported via Rapid Financial Instrument. Our Central Bank requested access to this facility immediately.”
And Iranian Central Bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati wrote on his Instagram page a message in farsi which, according to Reuters, said “in a letter addressed to the head of IMF, I have requested five billion U.S. dollars from the RFI emergency fund to help our fight against the coronavirus.”
According to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource center, Iran has had more than 5,000 deaths from the virus, one of the highest in the world. But senior officials in the Donald Trump administration said Iran’s government has billion-dollar accounts at its disposal and blocked the request, according to press reports.
“If the decision is taken of refusing this request from Iran I really, deeply regret [it] for humanitarian reasons,” said Borrell who stressed that “we support the idea that in these times sanctions cannot affect the humanitarian trade, the humanitarian supplies.”
Yet “the problem is the capacity of Iran to have the capital … to buy, to pay for the resources they need in order to fight against the coronavirus and … they have needs they cannot fulfill due to the fact that they don’t have the capital required,” he said.
The former Spanish foreign minister said the U.S. has insisted that in its sanctions “there’s nothing that can affect this [humanitarian] help.”
For these reasons “we supported first to soften the sanctions and second the request of Iran to the International Monetary Fund for getting financial help.”