Will Trump Ease Sanctions on Iran?
Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council called President Donald Trump “more dangerous than coronavirus” opposing efforts by the International Monetary Fund to assist Iran during the pandemic. This comes after the U.S. plans to block Iran’s requested $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Tehran says it needs to fight its coronavirus crisis—as the IMF’s largest shareholder, the U.S. largely determines the fate of bailout requests, though technically other member countries could amass a majority of votes to approve Iran’s loan even with U.S. opposition. Shamkhani argued that the U.S. move blocks vital medical supplies to fight coronavirus from reaching Iran was tantamount to crimes against humanity.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is suffering the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East with more than 62,000 people infected and over 3,800 dead—the International experts also fear the regime may be under-reporting its cases, as officials had down played the virus ahead of a parliamentary election scheduled in May. While Trump already offered humanitarian aid to assist the country’s pandemic of the COVID-19, Tehran has refused America’s helping hand.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi stated: “Since the outbreak…we have been observing the U.S.-led anti-Iranian propaganda campaign and know about the measures the Americans have taken to reduce Iranian nation’s morale.” He went on to say that Tehran is “doubtful” about the U.S. offer of help and accused the Trump administration of hiding its political motives behind cooperation: “We do not need them.” Iran also rejected an offer from a France-based medical charity.
Senior officials in the Trump administration said Iran’s government has billion-dollar accounts still at its disposal. If allowed to tap IMF financing, the officials said, Tehran would then be able to divert those or other funds to help its economy, which has been weakened by U.S. sanctions, or finance militants in the Middle East, rather than on containing the pandemic. The U.S. government is required by law to vote against IMF aid to countries designated as state sponsors of terror, such as Iran.
What Iran wants is a lifting of sanctions imposed on them by the U.S. after it had pulled out of the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal) in 2018—Trump drew international criticism for this as critics said that Iran had changed its draconian ways and was keeping faith to the deal.
Last week Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden (and 34 members of the most progressive wing in Congress) petitioned the Trump administration to ease economic sanctions on Iran, despite the regime deceiving its people on the danger of the COVID-19: “While the Iranian government has failed to respond effectively to this crisis, including lying and concealing the truth from its own people, and it continues to act provocatively in the region, the Iranian people are hurting desperately. Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people.”
The truth of the matter is, the Iranian regime is crying wolf since it ultimately and solely seeks to stay in power and maintain its regional influence. The regime has continually lied in complying with the JCPOA anchored by then-President Barak Obama, while simultaneously it and the other countries that co-signed the deal financially profited at the cost of the Iranian people. And it is exactly that amount of money Tehran needs to sponsor its international terrorism. In fact, President Hassan Rouhani was able to increase its military budget by at least 145 percent.
According to Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, leading expert on Iran and U.S. foreign policy and president of the International American Council, the billions of dollars in frozen assets released to the regime only empowered its hegemony in the region: “In Iraq, the Iranian regime currently supports at least 40 militia groups under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces. Some of these militias are known for committing war crimes, serious violations of international laws, and egregious crimes against humanity. After the nuclear deal, the Iranian leaders have even pushed and succeeded at making the Iraqi government officially recognize these militias and incorporate them into its political and security establishment.”
The Trump administration has already granted a financing exemption to Iran, such one set up by the U.S. and Switzerland, to allow for such humanitarian trade. Last Friday Trump said he would have a “moral responsibility” to help Iran in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic if leaders of the country asked for assistance. “Well, they haven’t even asked us to do that,” said Trump when asked if the United States consider easing sanctions on Iran on Iran in light of the global outbreak.
While who would not put politics aside to save lives, the dilemma in all this is that the Iranian regime still refuses to accept humanitarian aid from the U.S., thereby making matters worse for its people.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University in New York, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is author of Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.
Book is available on Amazon:
Barnes & Noble: