On Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani stated that Washington was demanding Iranian deals for novel coronavirus vaccines pass via the US banks, and expressed his fear that the money could be confiscated.
Since 2018, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, has imposed several sanctions on the Islamic Republic. In fact, Iran has assets frozen in many countries, including in the US.
Rouhani related during a gathering of Iran’s coronavirus task team, without identifying the country in question: We want to transfer money from a country where our money is to buy the vaccine, and this country has accepted.
Theorell, medicines are exempt from the sanctions, but in reality, international banks tend to turn down transactions involving Iran to avoid any exposition to possible litigation.
Rouhani also said that the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had initially shown that it didn’t have a problem with such a transfer of funds, adding that it indicated later that the money had to first pass through a US bank before being transferred for the vaccine purchase.
Moreover, Rouhani said in April said that the country achieved a legal victory over $1.6 billion of its assets that had long been frozen on a US demand in Luxembourg. The Iranian president also stated on Saturday, addressing the US administration: Who can trust people like you? You have stolen our money everywhere you found it.
According to official numbers, the Islamic Republic has been fighting the Middle East’s deadliest pandemic of the novel coronavirus since February, with almost 1,195,000 cases and over 54,500 deaths.
On his part, Health Minister Saeed Namaki indicated early this month that Iran had pre-purchased almost 16.8 million vaccine doses via COVAX, without specifying which vaccine. Indeed, COVAX is an international initiative that aims to guarantee equitable access to coronavirus vaccines for all countries.
Rouhani also said that the vaccine purchase could be more costly and be delayed, but it will certainly happen. The health ministry declared that Iran has also appealed for volunteers to start clinical trials for its own vaccine that it started to develop in the spring.