Radiofarda – Speaking on the side-lines of a meeting of cabinet ministers and President Rouhani on Wednesday Iran’s Central Bank (CBI) Governor said that part of Iran’s frozen assets may be released soon to enable the country to deal with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic.
“We have information that part of our assets that were frozen in other countries due to the pressure from the government of the United States may be released,” Abdolnasser Hemmati declared without elaboration and said the government hopes to be able to use these assets to buy essential goods, medicine, and medical equipment.
According to the CBI Governor, Iran imported $15 billion dollars of essential goods and medicine in the past 12 months.
President Rouhani also on Wednesday mentioned a recent conversation with the “leader of one of the non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council” who told him that a “plan for lifting all sanctions” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic is going to be presented at the Security Council.
Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif on March 17 had called on the international community to reject U.S. sanctions against Iran. Zarif said the punitive measures taken by the United States have “drained” Iran’s resources and called on other countries to “join the growing global campaign to disregard U.S. sanctions on Iran”.
The Iranian economy has experienced even greater pressure since the eruption of the coronavirus epidemic in the country in late February. The country’s foreign currency reserves have continuously depleted since the re-introduction of U.S. sanctions in 2018 when the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers. The U.S. sanctions aim to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and regional influence.
On March 12 Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said Iran’s Central Bank has requested immediate access to funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for countries affected by coronavirus. This is the first time since 1962 that Iran is asking for emergency funding from IMF.
- Maryam SinaieeMaryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.