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Iran requests $5 billion emergency loan as the state begins to ease shutdown restrictions


Iran requests $5 billion emergency loan as the state begins to ease shutdown restrictions

Photo: Reuters

In Tehran’s first appeal for IMF aid since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, President Hassan Rouhani has requested a $5 billion emergency loan to fight the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the Middle East. Iranian authorities are planning to ease lockdown restrictions on Saturday as they look to bolster a struggling economy already crippled by sanctions. A $4.6 billion rescue package designed to assist poorer families and boost consumer spending was unveiled last week, one day after Iran announced a staggered re-opening of lower-risk businesses.

In a tweet on Sunday, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council accused the US of blocking Tehran’s loan request while Rouhani has equated American sanctions to “medical terrorism”. Washington, facing rising international criticism from China, Russia and Europe, has rejected the claim that its maximum pressure campaign targets medical supplies.

Expect the US to block Iran’s request for the $5 billion emergency loan from the IMF. The White House suspects that Iran possesses hidden funds, and is attempting to leverage the pandemic in order to ease sanctions intended to curb its nuclear development and support for proxy forces in the Middle East. The EU has backed Iran’s request and pledged $22 million in aid in anticipation of an American block; the capital is sorely needed to reinforce a flagging healthcare system coping with at least 70,000 infections.

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