TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday to give the sanctions-hit country a $5 billion emergency loan to combat its novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Islamic republic is battling one of the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreaks which it says has killed close to 4,000 people and infected more than 64,500. There has been speculation abroad that the real number of deaths and infections could be higher.
Iran has said it needs what would be its first IMF loan in over half a century to continue fighting the virus. But its arch enemy the United States, which effectively holds a veto at the IMF, is reportedly set to block the loan, arguing Iran will use the funds for military purposes. “I urge all international organisations to fulfil their duties,” Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting.
“We are a member of the IMF… if there’s going to be any discrimination between Iran and others in giving loans, neither we nor world opinion will tolerate it.” Iran announced on March 12 that it had requested the loan. The country has not received assistance from the IMF since a “standby credit” issued between 1960 and 1962, according to IMF figures.
According to the IMF’s website, a Rapid Financial Instrument “is available to all member countries facing an urgent balance of payments need”. “If they do not act on their duties in this difficult situation, the world will judge them in a different way,” Rouhani said.