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COVID-19 and Iran Sanctions - Gökberk Bilgin

Iran is one of the countries that has been affected by COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, there are 91,472 active cases and 5,806 deaths.

Although it has been said that economic sanctions are the most harmless way of applying pressure, the shortages of medical equipment cause many lives that could have been saved with humanitarian help.

Last month, the Iranian government had called $5 billion from the IMF for financing Coronavirus expenses and asked for international support to lift the U.S. sanctions.

Washington, on the other hand, does not have any motivation for easing the sanctions, yet they are content with the medical supports. A delivery from Switzerland on medical tools arrived in Iran. However, when we think about the scale of the country, these supports are far away from sufficient while the pressure on the Iranian economy resumes.

On the Iran-China relations, we see a significant decline in the trade values. It is said that in the first quarter of 2020, Iran’s exports to China dropped by 52.7%. When these trade declines also combine with Coronavirus and low oil prices, it creates a significant burden on the Iranian economy.

Two weeks ago, the Iranian government decided to sell 10 percent of the shares of Shasta, which is the wealthiest state-run holding company, to balance the expenses to some degree.

Despite all the setbacks, Iranian officials are continuing to support their allies. According to a Bloomberg report, last week, they sent gasoline blendstock and technicians to support operations on Venezuela’s Amuay refinery, which is one of the biggest in the world. Now, the Venezuelans are also considering buying gasoline which is sold $10 for a gallon at the moment within the country.

Military developments are also continuing. On the weekend, the Iranians launched their first military satellite. Last week, Donald Trump said that any hostile activity against Americans in the Hormuz Strait would not be tolerated.

Under the light of these developments, we can say that the American pressure on the Iranian government continues despite the Coronavirus. Yet, the Iranians are also finding alternative ways to deal with the sanctions. The upcoming American elections will determine the future of the American sanction policy.


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