Sunday, February 25, 2024

Main Iranian Banker Says US Blocks Purchase of COVID-19 Vaccine | Middle East

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The central bank chief said the United States was trying to prevent efforts to purchase vaccines through the WHO COVAX program.

Tehran, Iran – The United States is actively trying to block Iran’s efforts to purchase a COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX, a global initiative undertaken by the World Health Organization, according to the head of Iran’s central bank.

Abdolnasser Hemmati said on Monday that it was necessary to “record in historical memory” that Iranian efforts to purchase a vaccine through COVAX were hampered due to money transfer problems resulting from the sanctions imposed by the United States against the Iran.

“So far, all methods of payment and currency transfer required have encountered obstacles due to inhumane sanctions from the US government and the need to obtain permits from OFAC,” Hemmati wrote. in an Instagram post, referring to the Office of Foreign Assets. Control of the US Treasury.

Iran, which faces the biggest and deadliest COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East, announced months ago that it had joined COVAX in order to secure vaccines.

WHO presents COVAX as “the best hope in the world” to fight the pandemic in a coordinated and timely manner, and affirms that the aim of the international initiative is to “ensure rapid, fair and equitable access to vaccines for populations From all countries”.

Iran’s official death toll against COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Saturday as the country battles the third wave of the virus with more than one million reported cases.

Iranian health officials say the actual numbers are likely more than double the official numbers.

After unilaterally reneging on Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018, US President Donald Trump imposed waves of economic sanctions on Iran.

The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran has since seen the entire Iranian financial sector blacklisted.

The sanctions, which also targeted Iran’s central bank, have had a documented impact on Iran’s access to life-saving drugs over the past three years.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly stated that they regard the sanctions as an example of “economic and medical terrorism” against the Iranian people.

The United States has refused calls from its traditional allies in Europe and human rights groups to lift sanctions during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘American pressure and threats’

Hemmati also described how Iran’s efforts to buy a vaccine are blocked by the United States through other corridors.

Iran’s efforts to spend its funds stranded in South Korea to pay for the vaccine have also been rejected by the United States, according to the central bank chief.

Iranian officials say about $ 7 billion of the country’s reserves in South Korea, a major buyer of Iranian oil before the sanctions were imposed, remain frozen.

South Korea has failed to relocate them for fear of US retaliation, despite repeated calls from Iran.

Hemmati said that “pressure and threats from the United States” also led the International Monetary Fund to block Iran’s loan request.

“Despite Iran’s adherence to law and the absence of economic or legal barriers, the IMF did not even dare to raise Iran’s request for a humanitarian loan to the fund’s board of directors,” he said. writes Hemmati.

In March, as the first wave of the pandemic ravaged Iran, leading to massive lockdowns, the country requested an emergency loan of $ 5 billion from the IMF which was blocked by the United States.

Iran eventually resorted to its sovereign wealth fund for one billion euros ($ 1.21 billion) to fight the pandemic.

Hemmati said Iran was following “other routes” to pay for the vaccine and was in negotiations with other countries. He added that efforts to produce a vaccine locally are “promising.”


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