For the first time since 1962 Iran has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency funding to help it fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which has infected more than 10,000 people and claimed hundreds of lives so far.
In a tweet on Thursday Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran's Central Bank has requested immediate access to funding from IMF for countries affected by coronavirus.
IMF's managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, has stated that countries affected by COVID19 will be supported via Rapid Financial Instrument, Zarif wrote in his tweet and said Iran's Central Bank has requested "access to this facility immediately" adding "IMF/IMF Board should adhere to Fund's mandate, stand on right side of history and act responsibly".
Earlier on Thursday Iran's Central Bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati in an Instagram post said that he has written to Georgieva and has requested $5 billion from the Rapid Financial Instrument's emergency fund to help Iran fight against the coronavirus.
Georgieva on March 4 announced that the international body was making $50 Billion to help address the coronavirus global crisis.
Iran is among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus epidemic. Since February 19 when the two first confirmed deaths from coronavirus in the holy city of Qom were officially announced, the virus has claimed at least 429 lives as of March 12. The real death toll, many say, is much higher, even up to 1000.
The Iranian economy was under great pressure even before the coronavirus crisis began. U.S. sanctions re-introduced in 2018 when the United States withdrew from the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, have since depleted the country's foreign currency reserves.
On March 7 Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif accused the U.S. President Donald Trump of "maliciously" tightening its sanctions with aim of draining Iran's resources needed in the fight against coronavirus.
Iran was among the 44 countries invited to the Bretton Woods Conference, officially known as the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, in 1944 which led to the creation of the International Monetary Fund. In 1951 Iran received a loan equal to one-fourth of its credit with the fund for the first time.