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article imageOp-Ed: Iran official critical of US obstruction of IMF loan application

By Ken Hanly     Apr 7, 2020 in Politics
Iran's Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkrani criticized US obstruction of a loan from the International Monetary Fund(IMF) that Iran was seeking to fight the COVID-19 pandemic that has had a serious impact on the country.
Shamkrani's tweet
On Sunday the Supreme National Council official tweeted: "The sanction of health items is an illegal & inhumane act & a symbol of #Trump's open hostility to the Iranian people. 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." Shamkrani added a hashtag in Farsi that said Trump was more dangerous than the coronavirus. The loan was rejected by the IMF.
The Covid-19 pandemic in Iran is said by Iranian officials to have taken over 3,600 lives and infected more than 58,000 since February 19.
US action
The Central Bank of Iran
was reported last month to have asked the IMF for a $5 billion dollar loan its first loan request since 1962. Iran said that it need the loan to deal with the costs of fighting the COViD-19 pandemic. The costs of Iran's fight against the virus are exacerbated by the fact that it faces crippling sanctions imposed by the US in May of 2018 after the US withdrew from the international deal on Iran's nuclear program.
Calls have mounted for the US to ease the sanctions to allow Iran more resources to combat the pandemic. US has shown no sign of doing so. Now it has used it influence to pressure the IMF to turn down the loan. The US has taken similar actions against Venezuela as it attempts to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro. The IMF claimed that it was not clear who represented the Venezuela government Maduro or the coup leader Juan Guaido recognized by the US and many allies as the interim president of Venezuela.
Senior officials in the Trump administration
claimed that Iran had billion-dollar accounts still at its disposal. The US argued that if Iran were allowed to get IMF financing it could divert the funds to help its economy, or finance militants rather than fighting the pandemic. Of course, it is US sanctions that have to a large extent weakened the Iranian economy. An anonymous US official claimed that Iranian officials had a long history of diverting funds for humanitarian goods into their own pockets and to finance their terrorist proxies. He provided no evidence of this. The remarks fit a pattern of demonizing Iran. The US probably does not worry so much about aid funds being diverted so much as freeing up funds that would have been used to fight the pandemic for other uses such as helping the economy. That the economy would be made stronger from such help is a negative for the US which is using sanctions to ensure it stays weak.
UPDATE: I have corrected the headline as it seems the IMF has not yet made a decision on the application
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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