EU’s Borrell chides U.S. for blocking Iran loan from IMF

April 25, 2020 - 21:45

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, Politico reported on April 22

"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.”

Iran has called the illegal U.S. sanctions “economic and medical terrorism” amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

According to data from the Health Ministry, Iran has had more than 5,600 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."

In an interview with Bloomberg published on April 19, Iran’s central banker said, “We have not asked the United Sates for help! We have asked the IMF for support: an international, apolitical institution affiliated with the UN, and for which, we were one of the founder members and contributors over the past 75 years.” 

Hemmati added, “The United States is a member of the IMF as all 190 or so other countries. The last time I checked, the United States is not running the IMF, but it’s management and the Board of Governors who oversee the work and ensure that the IMF delivers on its mandate. But I would like to repeat that all UN organizations, say the IMF or WHO, should stay away from politics and deliver on their institutional mandates.”

The central banker also said, “I believe we were among the first countries who requested support through a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) on March 6, 2020, more than 40 days ago. Remember, we were among the first five countries who were hit hard by the coronavirus and when the managing director of the IMF announced that the IMF is ready to help countries using the RFI, we, as one of the member countries, submitted our request to access this facility.”

In a tweet on March 26, Zarif said, “Even the world's largest economy (the U.S.) needs others to help it fight the pandemic, yet refuses to halt its Economic Terrorism against Iran.”

Zarif said the Covid-19 is ravaging the world and sparing no nation.  

“Does the U.S. want a ‘forever pandemic’?” Zarif asked.

The chief diplomat said it is “moral imperative to stop observing the bully’s sanctions”.

Speaking to reporters on April 22, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country is not against the payment of a $5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan to Iran to battle coronavirus.

On April 12, in a letter to President Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein urged him not to block Iran's access to the IMF loan. “Providing these funds to Iran would help it respond more effectively to the disease and mitigate the risk of further destabilization in the region,” she said in her letter.


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