US Senator Dianne Feinstein, representing California, called on US President Donald Trump to abolish the plan by his administration to block Iran’s request in the International Monetary Fund for $5 billion in aid to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic in the country.
“I am disappointed to see reports that your administration intends to block Iran from receiving $5 billion in humanitarian aid from the IMF to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” Feinstein wrote in a letter to Trump on Thursday. “Providing these funds to Iran would help it respond more effectively to the disease and mitigate the risk of further destabilization in the region.”
The Senator said that Tehran has been “unable to contain the spread of the disease within its borders” due in part to unilateral US economic sanctions on the country.
The coronavirus has hit Iran hard, with the potential for even greater spread in the region. In the interest of international security, President Trump should support Iran’s request to the IMF for emergency funds to contain this virus. pic.twitter.com/yWD3kD9Qem— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) April 9, 2020
Feinstein argued that if the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran is not quickly controlled, it will spread in the region and beyond, endangering US and coalition troops in neighboring countries, including Afghanistan.
“It is in our national interest, and in the interest of international security, to help Iran contain this disease,” Feinstein said.
The Senator called on Trump to support Tehran’s request for the aid. She suggested that as a means of spending oversight, the request for US support could be “contingent upon IMF oversight on how Iran spreads the funds”.
On Tuesday, Ortagus, a spokeswoman for the US Department of State, asserted to BBC Persian that any IMF loans to Iran would be used by Tehran “to help their terrorist proxy groups in the Middle East” and not to benefit the Iranian people.
On Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the IMF must fulfill its duties toward Iran, a member that has “not asked the [IMF] anything” in over 50 years, by providing an essential loan to help the country mitigate the devastating effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As of Saturday, the total number of COVID-19 patients in Iran had topped 70,000, with 4,357 fatalities and 41,947 recoveries.