Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- There are reports that the United States has been granting waivers to unfreeze Iranian assets in several countries, meant to allow Iran to buy medicine and equipment for coronavirus. Officially the State Department denies that this is the case after the US Treasury had, on 27 March, imposed new sanctions targeting individuals and companies it accused of having links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Iran has been pushing for these sanctions reliefs for weeks to help with the pandemic, and the US has repeatedly rejected the appeal.

At the same time, it makes sense to unfreeze the assets for virus relief. The US has kept those countries sitting on the money for years, but there is little to lose from letting Iran buy medicine with it, and even if publicly denied, it likely will help US-Iran relations and improve Washington’s image in the region.

The US will struggle to keep this a secret, assuming it really wants to, as the countries involved all certainly know about the waivers, and if Iran starts getting medicine, that’s another clear signal that things have changed, even if just temporarily.

The United Nations and countries including the UK, Russia, China and Pakistan have urged the US to ease sanctions against Iran, which has been one of the countries worst hit by the global pandemic.

On 20 March, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani published a letter addressed to the American people in which he said that sanctions against Tehran risked undermining the worldwide fight against the virus.

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