The US is seeking to dial up its pressure on Iran despite the global crises caused by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed nearly 84,000 lives and infected nearly 1.5 million people across the world.
In what appears to be an attempt to push the Islamic Republic to the brink of collapse, President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to block Iran’s request for a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fund its fight against the coronavirus.
Iran, which has been the worst hit of all the countries in the Middle East by the coronavirus outbreak, requested the emergency loan last month.
The IMF seemed inclined to offer assistance. The Managing Director of the Washington based monetary agency, Kristalina Georgieva, was reported saying that countries affected by COVID-19 would be supported via “Rapid Financial Instrument”.
Tehran’s chances of getting an emergency $5 billion injection has, however, been struck a blow. Senior officials within the Trump administration have questioned Iran’s need for the loan and suggested that the Islamic Republic still has billions of dollars at its disposal.
The White House also claimed that if allowed to tap IMF financing, Tehran will be in a position to divert its existing funds to the rest of the economy, which the US is trying to undermine.
American resistance to Iran getting an emergency loan was reported on Sunday by the secretary of its Supreme National Security Council who publicly accused Washington of blocking the $5 billion emergency loan request from the IMF.
“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,” said Ali Shamkhani in a tweet.
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.
— علی شمخانی (@alishamkhani_ir) April 5, 2020
Despite warnings of dire humanitarian consequences, the US has been reluctant to ease its sanctions on Iran and maintained its “maximum pressure” policy which has restricted Tehran’s ability to respond effectively to the virus.
The EU has not seen eye to eye with Washington on this matter and agreed to provide €20 million ($27.8 million) in humanitarian aid.