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Does Embattled Iran Care Who First Produces A Coronavirus Vaccine? No, They Won’t Mind Doing Good Medical Business With Israel

The Oasis Reporters

March 16, 2020

Screenshot of a woman who has her temperature checked and her hands disinfected as she enters the Palladium Shopping Center in northern Tehran, Iran, March 3, 2020. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

With a battered economy that has been humbled and battered by a crippling US sanctions
Iran asks IMF for $5bn emergency funding to fight coronavirus.

The threat by the virus has posed huge concerns and while Israel is in the forefront to make anti coronavirus vaccines, reports indicate that Iran may brush politics aside and be good customers with Israel.

This knowledge is self evident, since the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency funding to help it fight the coronavirus outbreak that has hit the Islamic republic hard according to his testimony on Thursday.

News reports say that the escalating outbreak in Iran – the worst-affected country in the Middle East – has killed 429 people and infected 10,075, including Iran’s vice president and two ministers who were stricken by coronavirus.

The virus has damaged Iranian businesses and is bound to hit its non-oil exports after many neighbouring countries and trade partners shut their borders.

The IMF managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, “has stated that countries affected by #COVID19 (coronavirus) will be supported via Rapid Financial Instrument (RFI). Our Central Bank requested access to this facility immediately”, Zarif said in a tweet.

Iranian Central Bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati wrote on his Instagram page that “in a letter addressed to the head of IMF, I have requested five billion US dollars from the RFI emergency fund to help our fight against the coronavirus”.

Iran’s economy was already battered by United States sanctions that curb oil and gas exports crucial for government revenues. A slowdown in economic activity caused by the virus outbreak and a sustained closure of its borders are expected to lead to a contraction this year, analysts have said.

As Iran’s rulers struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Tehran has blamed the US and its “maximum pressure” policy for restricting Iran’s ability to respond effectively to the virus.

In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Zarif repeated Iran’s demand for US sanctions to be lifted, Iranian media reported.

US officials have said that the sanctions do not target medicine for Iran and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on February 29 that the US had offered to help Tehran face the outbreak. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman reportedly said that any US offer to help Iran in its fight against the coronavirus was “ridiculous”.

In another news report, top Iranian cleric okays buying future Israeli coronavirus vaccine
Naser Makarem Shirazi, 93, a Holocaust-denying hardliner and one of the highest religious authorities in Iran, says using vaccine made by ‘Zionists’ okay if ‘there’s no substitute’

The Iranian regime views Israel as a mortal enemy. But Iran has also faced one of the most severe outbreaks of the COVID-19 coronavirus outside its origin and epicenter in China.

“It is not permissible to buy and sell from Zionists and Israel,” Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, 93, told the Iranian daily Hamdeli on Wednesday.

“Unless the treatment is unique and there is no substitute,” he added, “then this is not an obstacle.”

Shirazi, one of the highest authorities in Shiite Islam and a former member of the regime’s Assembly of Experts that appoints the supreme leader, is considered among the regime’s more hard-line ideologues.

On Wednesday, media reports said Israel’s Institute for Biological Research, which operates under the aegis of the Defense Ministry, was closing in on a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Later in the day, the Defense Ministry denied any “breakthrough” had been achieved and said the institute’s efforts “will take time” to bear fruit.

Reporting on the possibility that Israel would be the first to produce a vaccine, the Iranian daily Hamdeli turned to Shirazi to ask if Iranians would be permitted to buy and use the Israeli-developed vaccine.

Source: The Times of Israel

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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