On Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the US is demanding Iran’s payments for the coronavirus vaccine go through US banks. Rouhani fears that the US could seize the money.
Since the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018, ordinary Iranians have faced medicine shortages as a result. In October, the US imposed new sanctions that effectively blacklisted Iran’s financial sector. The October sanctions exacerbated medicine shortages, making it even more difficult for Iranians to buy vital medicines, like insulin.
The US claims the sanctions have exemptions for humanitarian goods, but the sanctions discourage banks from processing any transactions with Iran. Rouhani believes the US will seize any Iranian assets, even money for vaccine payments. “Who can trust people like you? You have stolen our money everywhere you found it,” he said.
Rouhani said Iran wants to transfer its money from an unnamed country to buy the vaccine. He explained that the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control initially said that “it didn’t have a problem” with the transfer of funds. But “it said later that the money had to first pass through a US bank before being transferred,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani said the vaccine purchase “could be more costly and be delayed, but it will certainly happen.” Iran is working to develop its own vaccine and is currently looking for volunteers to begin trials.