Iranian officials have accused the United States of thwarting its efforts to purchase the coronavirus vaccine, Bloomberg reported yesterday.
The agency said Tehran hoped to use the billions of US dollars held in South Korean won currency to purchase the vaccines under an agreement it had reached with Seoul a few months ago.
However, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdul Nasser Hemmati, said on Monday that the US sanctions are preventing Tehran from making advance payment to the global COVAX facility co-managed by the Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries.
Meanwhile, a GAVI spokesman said there is no legal obstacle preventing Iran from purchasing the vaccine through COVAX, explaining that the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has already issued a license to allow the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, Bloomberg quoted an Iranian government official as saying that OFAC's license has little effect, explaining that the transactions would pass through an American bank to be converted into US dollars, then into Euros, before being transferred to COVAX.
The official also noted that South Korea had informed Iran that it cannot provide guarantees that the funds will not be confiscated or blocked once they arrive in the US bank.
More than one million Iranians have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 50,000 have died as a result.