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Esfandyar Batmanghelidj

How the IMF Can Help Iran Despite U.S. Objections

There are ways to address American concerns about giving the Islamic Republic access to financial aid.

They face a U.S. block, too.

They face a U.S. block, too.

Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

The coronavirus epidemic has hammered Iran’s economy. Like many developing countries around the world that have seen export revenues fall, Iran faces a balance of payments crunch—but one that has been uniquely exacerbated by the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign.

Brian Hook, the State Department’s point person on Iran, has revealed that the Trump administration had restricted the Islamic Republic’s access to 90% of its foreign currency reserves. Even when Iran is able to access these funds, medical supplies can be hard to procure. John Smith, the former head of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, has said the sanctions have “likely dissuaded many companies from exporting medicine and medical devices to Iran that they otherwise could.”