Khordad 7 1399 - May 27 2020
Second Iranian Oil Tanker Arrives At Venezuela's Largest Refinery

A second Iranian tanker carrying gasoline and oil derivatives has arrived at crisis-stricken Venezuela's main oil refinery, amid escalating tensions between Washington and the two U.S.-sanctioned countries. The Forest docked at the Paraguana refinery complex in northwest Falcon state on May 26, Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami wrote on Twitter, also sharing photos of the vessel at the dock. 5/27/20

Iran-China trade falls 40% in first 4 months of 2020 yr/yr

Based on the data released by the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China, Iranian imports from the Asian country reached $2.92 billion in the January-April period, indicating a three percent rise compared to the same time span in 2019. The exports to China, however, fell 61 percent to stand at $2.34 billion. 5/26/20

Venezuela celebrates docking of tanker with Iran gasoline

Venezuelan authorities celebrated Monday as the first of five Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline docked in the South American country, delivering badly needed fuel to the crisis-stricken nation that sits atop the world's largest oil reserves. The gasoline shipments are arriving in defiance of stiff sanctions by the Trump administration against both nations, and they mark a new era in the burgeoning relationship between Venezuela and Iran, which is expanding its footprint in the Western Hemisphere. -AP 5/26/20

Tehran Real-Estate Survey

The Statistical Center of Iran has published its latest report on home and land prices as well as rents in the capital city Tehran during the fourth quarter of the last Iranian year (Dec. 22, 2019-March 19), the winter season of fiscal 2019-20. -Financial Tribune 5/26/20

First Iranian Tanker 'Fortune' Reaches Venezuelan Coast Escorted by Bolivarian Armed Forces

Iran has sent five ocean-going tankers loaded with an estimated 1.53 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela, a move that has reportedly received threats from Washington. Tehran, in response, promised "retaliation" if the US moves to act against the ships. The first of five Iranian fuel tankers, the 'Fortune', entered the Venezuelan exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on late Saturday, according to data from Refiniv Eikon. -Sputnik 5/25/20

Why Iran has the world's best-performing stockmarket

There seems to be no end to Iran's suffering. It has struggled with one of the world's worst outbreaks of covid-19. As it opens back up there are signs that it is being hit by a powerful second wave. Last year the economy shrank by almost 8%. It may do worse this year. American sanctions had largely cut if off from the global market. The coronavirus has just about finished the job. Yet, somehow, the Iranian stockmarket is booming. -Economist 5/22/20

Turkey eyes leverage as it drags feet on Iran gas pipeline repairs

Turkey is delaying the completion of repairs to the Iran-Turkey gas pipeline, which was blown up at the end of March, in an apparent attempt both to curry favor with Washington and to pressure Tehran to reduce its prices, according to industry sources. Register Now Flows through the pipeline were halted early on March 31 following an explosion. -S&P Global 5/22/20

Will the US try to interdict Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela?

As five Iranian oil tankers steam toward Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanctions on both states, President Donald Trump is being presented with options for stopping the delivery of the petroleum fuel they carry. The prospect of killing two "rogue state" birds with one stone must be attractive to Trump. His policy against both countries is "maximum pressure," after all. But what could the U.S. do, would it be legal, and would it make any sense? -Mark Fitzpatrick, Responsible Statecraft 5/21/20

Venezuela's military to escort Iranian tankers bringing petrol

The Venezuelan military will escort Iranian tankers delivering much-needed petrol to the country to prevent any attempt by the US to stop them. Five vessels are on the high seas and are due to arrive in the coming days. Venezuela's defence minister said they would be "welcomed" into its exclusive economic zone, which extends 370km (200 nautical miles) from its shores. -BBC 5/21/20

Iran dismisses new US sanctions as 'fruitless and repetitive'

Iran has dismissed US sanctions on several of its officials, saying they were a sign of the complete inefficiency of Washington's previous sanctions on the country. "Washington's fruitless and repetitive sanctions against Iranian officials is a sign of weakness, despair and confusion of the US administration," state TV quoted Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying on Thursday. -Al Jazeera 5/21/20

Iranian husband, wife sentenced to death for corruption

Iranian Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaeili announced on Tuesday that two of the defendants in corruption cases were sentenced to death. The defendants, a husband and a wife, were involved in manipulating the foreign exchange and gold markets and hoarding cars from Siapa Company. 5/19/20

US sanctions make it harder to fight COVID-19

As the United States works to contain the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, resorting to extraordinary measures to limit health and economic damage to its own population, it should also suspend economic sanctions that are making it harder for some countries to fight COVID-19 and keep their citizens safe. -Hrair Balian, Responsible Statecraft 5/18/20

Sanctioning Pandemic-plagued Iran

Sanctions are the US government's go-to foreign-policy tool. Sanctions leverage the United States' economic might and dominance of the international financial system and, especially in contrast to military options, are deemed to be cost-free - cost-free for the US, that is. There are always unintended costs, however, on both sides. When sanctions are applied indiscriminately during a global pandemic, the costs spiral. This is clearly the case today with regard to the Trump administration's sanctions on Iran. -Mark Fitzpatrick, IISS 5/18/20

Iran's businesses struggle to stay afloat amid COVID-19

The global coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on economies around the world. Many years under heavy United States sanctions have forced domestic investment in Iran, which has been good for many local businesses, and domestic brands now dominate this big consumer market. - Zein Basravi, Al Jazeera 5/18/20

Iran FM: Threatening Iranian tankers by US amounts to piracy, jeopardizes intl. peace

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has issued stern warning against the US provocative acts through dispatching its naval forces to the Caribbean Sea with the goal of disrupting the course of Iranian tankers carrying fuel for Venezuela. In a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sunday, Zarif described "the illegal, dangerous and provocative US threats [against the Iranian tankers]" as a form of piracy and a big threat to international peace and security. -Press TV 5/18/20

Iran Unlocks New Funding Stream For Oil & Gas

A small and tedious-looking announcement of the ratification of a bylaw relating to the issuance of securities appeared on Iranian government-affiliated websites last week and was unsurprisingly ignored by the world's international media but not To the blank statement that Iran's First Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri, signed off on the issuance of Islamic compliant securities in the calendar year of 1399 means Iran will have access to a massive new stream of capital that it will use to drive forward its long-stalled oil and gas development programme. -Simon Watkins 5/18/20

Afghan migrants: Unwanted in Iran and at home

Afghans routinely cross the border into Iran and are frequently caught and deported back into Afghanistan. They endure inhumane treatment from smugglers and often lose their savings in the process. In 2019, alone, a total of 451,073 Afghans returned from Iran-a big chunk of them forced through deportation. -Fatemeh Aman, Atlantic Council 5/15/20

Iran Receives Another Cargo Of Medical Supplies From Germany

An official of the Iranian Customs Organization on Thursday confirmed that a consignment of medical equipment purchased from Germany worth around 749,000 euros (about $800,000) has been delivered to Iran. Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Director-General of Customs Office Sadeq Namdar at the Turkish border said the equipment delivered from Germany consists of haematology testing machines, flow cytometry tubes and autoanalyser machine accessories. 5/14/20

Iran's industry minister sacked amid crumbling economy

President Hassan Rouhani sacked his minister of industry, mine and trade at one of the most chaotic moments for the country's industry, particularly in the automotive sector. The Iranian auto industry has been on a downward path in the past two months with prices of domestic products soaring by up to 60%. Yet no mention of that turbulence was made in the official explanations and exchanges on Reza Rahmani's dismissal. -Al-Monitor 5/13/20

Iranian rial drops to lowest rate since September 2018 against the U.S. dollar

The Iranian rial hit its lowest rate against the U.S. dollar since September 2018 on the unofficial market on Tuesday, a foreign exchange website reported, amid a deterioration in the economic situation brought on by crippling U.S. sanctions and restrictions to deal with the new coronavirus outbreak. The dollar was being offered for as much as 170,000 rials, according to website which tracks the unofficial market. The official rate, cited by the central bank website, is 42,000. -Reuters 5/13/20

Iran's economy and the burden of multiple exchange rates

Currently, Iranian businesses have to navigate the official rate, the NIMA rate controlled by the CBI, and the floating market rate. The same "money-moving network" serves the currency exchanges between the Iranian rial and hard currencies. Additionally, it performs international transactions for Iranian importers and exporters and their foreign suppliers and customers independent of the assigned exchange rate. -Mohsen Tavakol, Atlantic Council 5/12/20

Tehran Stocks Top Key Level, Doubling Since First Virus Case

The Tehran Stock Exchange's main index of shares exceeded one million points for the first time on Saturday, extending the record highs reached as the benchmark more than doubled since Iran's first recorded Covid-19 case. The benchmark index has surged by 113% since the country's first Covid-19 case was recorded on Feb. 19. Iran had 106,220 cases and 6,589 deaths as of Saturday. -Bloomberg 5/11/20

Iran Has Gotten Nothing from U.S. 'Humanitarian' Channel

The humanitarian banking channel set up by the Trump administration to get medicine and other supplies into Iran-a politically calculated show of compassion amid otherwise draconian U.S. sanctions-has not in fact processed any potentially life-saving transactions, the Swiss government confirmed to The Daily Beast. Knowledgeable observers say the way the channel is structured places substantial burdens in the way of companies looking to sell Iran humanitarian supplies. -Spencer Ackerman, Daily Beast 5/8/20

Sanctions make Iran's coronavirus crisis more deadly

The Trump administration, seemingly in denial about its own shambolic response to the crisis, tried to blame the pandemic's high toll in Iran on the incompetence and corruption of the Iranian government. The Iranian leadership indeed made some mistakes in its handling of this public health emergency, such as initially underestimating the threat posed by the virus and failing to close the country's borders in time. It is, however, impossible to claim that the Iranian government is solely responsible for the devastation the pandemic has caused in the country. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Al-Jazeera 5/8/20

Iran hunts for grains as coronavirus compounds economic woes

Iran is scrambling to buy millions of tonnes of wheat, corn and soybeans to shore up its reserves, Iranian officials and traders said, despite President Hassan Rouhani's assertions that the coronavirus would not endanger food supplies to the Middle Eastern country worst hit by the pandemic. -Reuters 5/8/20

How the coronavirus is cementing Iran's tilt towards China

The Iran-China bilateral relationship has been gaining strategic significance for more than a decade and the coronavirus pandemic appears to have solidified this trend. While US President Donald Trump is offering medical supplies while refusing to lift sanctions on financial transactions with Iran, the Chinese are airlifting supplies and medical personnel to Tehran. -Ali Dadpay, Atlantic Council 5/7/20

The covid-19 crisis could strengthen Iran's 'invisible government'

Could the coronavirus pandemic bring about regime change or major behavioral shift in the Islamic Republic of Iran? U.S. policy hawks and a wide range of regime critics are increasingly convinced that it might. That's not likely, however - this view misreads the influence of Iran's nonelected political institutions. Rather than regime change, the covid-19 pandemic and escalating U.S. pressure appear more likely to reinforce the position of Iran's religious and military institutions.-Amir Hossein Mahdavi, Washington Post 5/7/20

As Iran Faces Virus, Trump Admin Fails to Use Swiss Channel to Ease Medical Exports

Just a few days after Iran announced its first deaths from COVID-19 in February, the Trump administration's Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook was asked during a briefing for an update on the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), a payments channel intended to ease the sale of medicine and medical devices by Swiss companies to Iran. Hook acknowledged that no further transactions had been processed since a pilot transaction involving a $2.55 million sale of medication a month earlier, but insisted that there were "more transactions coming."Two months later, over 6,000 Iranians have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the Swiss channel has yet to process any further transactions. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj & Image of Sahil Shah, European Leadership Network 5/6/20

Iran To Cut Four Zeros From Currency To Fight Hyperinflation

Iran's parliament has voted to slash four zeros from the national currency, the rial, to fight hyperinflation caused by crippling U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers also decided on May 4 that the rial, which has been Iran's national currency since 1925, will be replaced by the toman, which will be equal to 10,000 rials, according to the IRNA and ISNA news agencies. 5/5/20

Iran's Government Continuing Extensive Support for Startups, Tech Firms

Support for Iranian startups and knowledge-based companies has been high on the agenda of President Hassan Rouhani ever since he took office in 2013. Government officials never miss a chance to name the startup ecosystem as Iran's major business of future that would be able to curb the country's reliance on the sale of natural resources. -Financial Tribune 5/4/20

Is Iran on the verge of collapse or a menace flush with cash? How hawks sell regime change using contradictory arguments

Iran's request for a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is revealing serious desperation, and not only on the part the Iranian government. Desperation is also apparent in the responses from the Trump administration and the regime change lobby in Washington led by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) as they try to block the loan. -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Responsible Statecraft 4/29/20

Iranian startups faring even better amid pandemic

The knock-on effects of the coronavirus outbreak have been devastating for nearly the entire global economy but some businesses are faring even better in the new condition. While many struggle to keep their businesses afloat startups like this one are cashing in on the health crisis by offering much-needed medical services. Since the outbreak of the virus, many previously unheard-of health apps have appeared on billboards to jump on the wagon. -Yusef Jalali, Press TV 4/28/20

Senior businesswoman dismisses U.S. claim that Iran doesn't need IMF loan

The U.S. believes that Iran has enough resources to contain the virus and even if it didn't, the sanctions have not blocked the country's access to healthcare and medical products. So we asked Ferial Mostofi (a senior member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture), as a businesswoman and as a representative of the country's private sector, does Iran really need this loan? -Ebrahim Fallahi, Tehran Times 4/27/20

U.S. renews waiver for Iraq to import Iranian electricity, shortens time

The United States has renewed a waiver for Iraq to continue importing Iranian electricity, a State Department official said on Sunday, but this time for a shorter period of 30 days, adding that Washington would be reassessing whether to renew again once a "credible government" is formed in Iraq. -Reuters 4/27/20 4/27/20

70+ Groups Demand Trump Immediately End US Sanctions Against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Others During Covid-19 Crisis

Over 70 civil society groups representing more than 40 million people called on President Donald Trump Thursday to issue immediate sanctions relief for numerous countries-including Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea-for at least the duration of the coronavirus crisis which threatens to kill thousands in the hard-hit countries. The "urgent appeal" came in the form of an open letter sent by the groups to Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin calling for curtailing the sanctions regime for the duration of the pandemic. -Common Dreams 4/24/20

How Trump's Foreign Policy Puts Troops at Risk of Covid-19

US sanctions on Iran have "badly crippled" its economy as well as its ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, which endangers nearby US troops, according to a military intelligence brief obtained by The Nation. The document, dated April 3, says that Qatar-host to the largest US military base in the region-"has the highest number of COVID-19 cases, with over 800 confirmed." -Ken Klippenstein, Nation 4/24/20

How a misleading report on Iran from a hawkish 'think tank' made its way to Trump administration talking points

Whatever pain COVID-19 inflicts, it offers a golden opportunity for Washington lobbyists committed to tough sanctions against Iran. 'Regime change' or 'regime collapse', they say, is now within grasp if only the United States stands firm. United States sanctions have not just spawned a proliferating industry profiting lawyers, bureaucrats and "expert" consultants. They have created an opaque maze around which "bullet points" bounce from lobby groups and "think tanks" to the media to government, becoming "facts" through repetition and circular sourcing. -Gareth Smyth, Responsible Statecraft 4/23/20

EU Foreign Policy Chief Regrets US Opposition to IMF Loan Meant to Help Iran Fight Coronavirus

The US has refused to ease any of its sanctions against the Islamic Republic, despite Tehran stressing that they are impeding its efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak and are limiting the country's ability to buy medicine and medical equipment. -Sputnik 4/23/20

Iran, like wider Mideast, relies on deliveries amid pandemic

For some $15 a day, deliverymen don masks and gloves in Iran's capital to zip across its pandemic-subdued streets to drop off groceries and food for those sheltering at home from the virus. Like the wider Mideast, from skyscraper-studded Dubai to the narrow alleyways of Cairo, Iranians in cities rely on delivery for many of their daily supplies amid one of the world's worst coronavirus outbreaks. -Amir Vahdat, AP 4/23/20

How American exceptionalism is making the coronavirus crisis worse

Earlier this month, more than two dozen diplomats and national security leaders from the United States and Europe signed a statement in response to President Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. "An outbreak anywhere impacts people everywhere," they said. A global pandemic like COVID-19 requires a truly global response. But, the U.S.'s aggressive global role stands in the way. -Caroline Gray, Responsible Statecraft 4/22/20

Containing corruption key to Iran's economic recovery

Iran is faced with very difficult choices in its current struggle to contain the health and economic fallout from COVID-19. There's no doubt that unemployment remains the government's key concern, and to get people back to work, authorities are prepared to accept public health risks. In fact, to underline the dimensions of the challenge, on April 11 government spokesman Ali Rabiei stated that a long-term lockdown would leave 4 million Iranians unemployed. -Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor 4/22/20

U.S. And Iran Trade Barbs, Memes On Social Media Over Deadly Coronavirus Pandemic

The two sides, which officially don't talk to each other, have in past weeks been trading barbs and memes amid a deadly coronavirus pandemic that has hit both countries severely... Much of the recent exchanges have focused on crippling U.S. sanctions reimposed on Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump exited the historic 2015 nuclear deal, which he said was not strong enough to contain Tehran's nuclear activities and its regional ambitions. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 4/22/20

Women in virus-hit Iran tech sector fight to keep hard-won jobs

From the hustle and bustle of a startup, Fereshteh Kasrai now works from home, like many Iranian women fighting to keep hard-won tech jobs as the coronavirus outbreak stirs uncertainty. Iran says the COVID-19 disease has claimed more than 5,200 lives and infected close to 83,000 over the past two months, in the Middle East's deadliest outbreak. -AFP 4/21/20

German firm investing 400 million Euro in petchem project in Iran's Chabahar: Official

Iranian authorities say a notable German company is bringing in some 400 million euros worth of investment into a major petrochemical project in the southeastern port of Chabahar. The Fars news agency cited a senior Iranian official as saying on Monday that the German firm would invest in machinery and equipment needed for a methanol production project in Chabahar. -Press TV 4/21/20

COVID-19: Iran Loosens Restrictions

Iran has further loosened coronavirus restrictions, opening intercity highways and shopping malls even as the country continues to grapple with the highest number of confirmed cases in the region. The move, which took effect April 20, was an effort to restart the country's economy which had already been faltering prior to the pandemic due to punishing Western sanctions. 4/20/20

How Iran could curb COVID-19 despite sanctions, restrictions?

Since the first case of coronavirus was identified in Iran, the country has taken extensive measures to curb the spread of the disease, so that daily death toll has been declining over the past few days, unlike some other countries around the world which are still grappling with high casualties and infection. -Faranak Bakhtiari, Tehran Times 4/20/20

Iran's top banker urges IMF to resist US pressure as loan request lingers

Iran's Central Bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should approve Tehran's request for a loan without delay and to resist US pressure amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Last month, the Islamic Republic asked the IMF for $5 billion in loans to help finance its efforts to combat the disease. IMF officials have said the fund is proceeding with Iran's request, but the US has pledged to block the application. -Press TV 4/20/20

Iran's Nurses Are Martyrs to Trump's Maximum Pressure

Now, Iran's nurses-the majority of whom are women-are among those bearing the worst of the brunt of U.S. sanctions. Official death counts from the Iranian government aren't broken out by profession and are widely believed to understate coronavirus fatalities. A group of doctors in Iran that has been tracking the deaths of health care workers puts the number of nurses who have died at at least 15 between late February and mid April, but even that almost certainly underestimates the toll as health workers have reportedly been instructed by government officials not to reveal information about shortages, infections, or deaths. -Negar Mortazavi, FP 4/17/20

Iran, USA and coronavirus

That Iran-US relations have reached a critical point is obvious. But crisis in Greek means a turning point, a condition under which the existing means of achieving goals become inadequate but there emerge new opportunities. Maybe, this moment has come!? Let's hope that amid the global onslaught of coronavirus reason and pragmatism will prevail, opening new opportunities for dialogue and will thereby lead Iran and the United States to soften their approach in relation to each other. -Vladimir Sazhin, Modern Diplomacy 4/17/20

Iran Economic Outlook: IMF forecasts 6 percent drop in GDP in 2020

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expected that the Iranian economy would do better in the wake of the current coronavirus pandemic compared to the previous fiscal year. The IMF said in a report published Tuesday that the Iranian economy would shrink by 6 percent this year compared to 7.6 percent drop in 2019. 4/15/20

World oil demand forecast to suffer biggest drop ever

Global demand for oil will fall this year by the most ever due to the economic lockdowns enforced around the world to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday. An estimated drop in demand of 9.3 million barrels a day this year is equivalent to a decade's worth of growth. -AP 4/15/20

Iran says US missed COVID-19 'opportunity' to quit addiction to sanctions

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the COVID-19 pandemic was an "opportunity" for the United States to quit its addiction to sanctions, but Washington missed the chance and became more infamous among Iranians. "COVID-19 was opportunity for US to kick its addiction to sanctions," Zarif tweeted on Monday night. "Instead, it will now live in infamy in the memory of our people." -Press TV 4/14/20

In letter to Trump, World Council of Churches urges U.S. to end Iran sanctions amid COVID-19

In a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump published on April 9, the council wrote that "The novel coronavirus is a common enemy of humanity everywhere. An effective response to the pandemic demands an unprecedented degree of global solidarity and cooperation, special care for the most vulnerable, and swift action to mitigate the conditions which create additional vulnerability." 4/13/20

Iran's coronavirus stimulus: too little, too late

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei permitted on April 6 the administration of President Hassan Rouhani to withdraw 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) from Iran's National Development Fund to address the negative economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The move comes after weeks of disbelief in the government's circle and passivity in dealing with the economic impact of the pandemic. -Ali Dadpay, Al Monitor 4/13/20

Iran's president has left nation open to second Covid-19 wave - critics

Iran's president has been accused of leaving the country exposed to a second coronavirus outbreak after he relaxed social distancing rules in the face of concerns that as many as 7 million Iranians had been left jobless or suffering wage cuts because of the restrictions imposed by the government over the last month. Hassan Rouhani has urged millions of low-risk businesses to reopen and lifted travel restrictions within provinces. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 4/13/20

Iran's UN mission: Sanctions enemy's '5th column' in fight against pandemic

Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York has issued a message to member countries, saying that the brutal sanctions imposed by the United States on the Islamic Republic act as the enemy's "fifth column" as they compromise the country's ability to control the ongoing pandemic of new coronavirus known as COVID-19. -Press TV 4/13/20

As US Consigns Iranians to Death, Corporate Media Look the Other Way

Covid-19 has hammered few countries as hard as it has hit Iran, which reports (as of April 8) 64,586 cases and 3,993 deaths. US sanctions are a major reason that Iranians are getting infected with and dying from the coronavirus in such large numbers: The US's economic warfare softened Iran up for the pandemic well before its outbreak. -Gregory Shupak, Common Dreams 4/10/20

'Maximum pressure' on Iran amid coronavirus could backfire for Trump

"Maximum pressure" or "medical terrorism"? Iranian leaders are accusing the United States of crippling its medical system amid a coronavirus pandemic -- and the spat has crystallized global scrutiny of America's conduct under crisis. "History will remember that the White House, so far, has been an economic terrorist, and in medical care has been a terrorist as well," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a televised address Wednesday -Nic Robertson, CNN 4/10/20

US attempt to block Iranian funds in Europe nullified: Iran

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), also known as Bank Markazi, says the country has won a legal battle in Europe to dismiss a US attempt to have Iranian funds blocked and handed over to Washington for compensating the so-called victims of terror. Abdolnasser Hemmati said on Wednesday that courts in Luxembourg had taken Iran's side in a dispute over $1.6 billion worth of Iranian funds hold by Clearstream, a securities depository, which Washington had sought to block and confiscate. -Press TV 4/9/20

Coronavirus: Crisis batters Iranian tourism sector

Irans's fledgling tourism industry had already been hurting before the coronavirus. Visitor numbers fell after the US reimposed sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, costing bus drivers, tour guides and hotel workers their jobs. But now the sector faces collapse. -Deutsche Welle 4/9/20

COVID-19: Iran Urges IMF To Move On Emergency Loan

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide Tehran a multibillion-dollar emergency loan it had requested to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The outbreak has officially infected more than 64,500 people and killed over 4,000 in the country. 4/8/20

Iranian Oil Minister Calls On US and Canada To Reduce Oil Output

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has called on the United States and Canada to join non-OPEC oil producers led by Russia to reduce crude production. In a tweet on Tuesday, Namdar Zanganeh said, "Before any meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC there needs to be an agreement on production numbers for any country that will reduce output", adding that the U.S. and Canada need to play a role in determining production cuts. 4/8/20

Iran plans cash handouts to 23 million households amid virus surge

The Iranian government plans a one-off cash handout of 10 million rials (nearly $240 at official currency rate) to more than 23 million households in the country as part of efforts to help people cope with the economic impacts of the new coronavirus pandemic. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a recent Cabinet meeting that the cash handout scheme would cost the government around 250 trillion rials. 4/8/20

Transatlantic call to ease humanitarian trade with Iran due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Today, a bipartisan group of two dozen American and European national security leaders issue a joint statement urging the US government to ease humanitarian trade with Iran in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. "As the world grapples with COVID-19 - the disease caused by the novel coronavirus - we must remember that an outbreak anywhere impacts people everywhere. In turn, reaching across borders to save lives is imperative for our own security and must override political differences among governments" the authors write. -European Leadership Network 4/7/20

Iran's President Rohani calls for necessary measures to resume economic activities

President Hassan Rohani said late on Sunday that all required measured must be adopted to resume economic activities in the country with the people's health prioritized. talking to his cabinet members, Rohani said, "People's health is the country's first priority, but employment, production and businesses in a year that is named 'Surge in Production' must be considered as well." 4/6/20

Sanctions are crippling Iran's fight against coronavirus

To many of us urban administrators in Iran, the onslaught of coronavirus has underscored an important fact of life: no town, city or nation can be indifferent to global crises, even in far-flung corners of our world. Indeed, while the mantra of good governance over the past century has been to "think global, act local", we must today think and act both locally and globally. -Pirouz Hanachi, Guardian 4/6/20

US: Ease Sanctions on Iran in COVID-19 Crisis

Broad US-imposed economic sanctions are negatively affecting the Iranian government's ability to adequately respond to the mounting health consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The US should take immediate action to ease US sanctions and expand licensing of sanctions-exempt items to ensure Iran's access to essential humanitarian resources during the pandemic. -Human Rights Watch 4/6/20

EU's INSTEX transaction offers glimmer of hope but unlikely to satisfy Iran

European leaders have confirmed that INSTEX-the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges-has processed its first transaction with Iran: an export of medical goods from Europe. News of this move has been received with cautious optimism by those seeking to preserve the nuclear agreement with Iran, as INSTEX's successful conclusion of a trade with Iran is taken as evidence Europe may be reinvigorating efforts to preserve the agreement. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 4/6/20

Iran to have blocked funds released: Government spokesman

The Iranian government says it will soon have parts of funds blocked abroad because of the US sanctions released and return to the country for the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Monday that the government would soon announce some good news about unblocking the highly-needed funds. -Press TV 4/6/20

Can Iran's president turn around its economy?

While the Iranian government is busy managing the public health fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, there are increasing calls to pay attention to the needs of the country's economy and to develop a stimulus plan. But what can the Hassan Rouhani administration do in its current financial position? Not only does it face major financial shortcomings, it also cannot access its own hard currency reserves in international banks, nor can it hope to secure international loans or issue bonds on global capital markets. -Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor 4/3/20

Biden joins fellow US Democrats in call for easing Iran sanctions

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden on Thursday called on the administration of United States President Donald Trump to ease economic sanctions on Iran as a humanitarian gesture during the global coronavirus pandemic. The former vice president said the US has a moral obligation to be among the first to offer aid to people in need regardless of where they live when confronting a virus that knows no borders or political affiliations. -Al-Jazeera 4/3/20

COVID-19 outbreak in Iran exposes twisted aims of Iran hawks

The COVID-19 outbreak in Iran is a disaster for the Iranian people, with thousands already dead, tens of thousands more infected, and medical professionals working around the clock at profound risk to save as many lives as they can. Any American living through the pandemic should be able to sympathize, knowing that the Iranian people are dealing with the same struggle against a deadly virus, though one that is rendered far more difficult thanks to crushing U.S. sanctions. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 4/2/20

Iran medical body writes to Guterres, slams UN inaction on cruel US bans

The Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran has written to the UN to complain about the world's body failure to push for the lifting of cruel US sanctions at a critical time when the Islamic Republic is fighting a deadly coronavirus pandemic. In a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the Academy's President Alireza Marandi criticized the UN and its affiliated organizations for taking "no effective measures" to ease the restrictive US measures, which are hampering Iran's fight against the fast-spreading disease. -Press TV 4/2/20

COVID-19 and Iranian-American Relations

In recent weeks, Iran's suffering has been dramatically heightened by four converging disasters. The first is the multiplying deaths caused by COVID-19. Iran's health ministry grimly estimates that one person dies from the virus every ten minutes and 50 are infected every hour. By March 31, over 44,000 Iranians had been infected and almost 2,900 perished, making Iran the locus of one of the highest cases and deaths due to this scourge. The second disaster facing Tehran results from the intersecting costs of massive corruption and pervasive economic inefficiency. The coronavirus could be the proverbial last straw that breaks Iran's oil-dependent economy. -Daniel Brumberg, Arab Center, Washington DC 4/2/20

Iran Says U.S. Sanctions Are Taking Lives. U.S. Officials Disagree.

As Iran struggles with a devastating coronavirus outbreak, a broken economy and a severe shortage of medical equipment, it says that American trade sanctions are taking Iranian lives and has called for the United States to lift them on humanitarian grounds. Iran's plea is gaining traction around the globe, winning support from allies like Russia and China, but also the European Union, the United Nations secretary general, rights groups and nearly three dozen members of Congress, who have appealed to the Trump administration to suspend the sanctions for as long as Iran is battling the coronavirus. -Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times 4/2/20

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