The U.S. State Department shot down "inaccurate" reports claiming the Trump administration would soon be granting special sanctions exceptions to give Iran access to cash assets as it struggles to fight the coronavirus, according to information exclusively provided to the Washington Free Beacon.
The United States had "agreed to grant sanctions waivers to some countries allowing them to release frozen Iranian assets in order to help Tehran buy medicine and equipment to fight the coronavirus," according to a report late Friday in Middle Eastern Eye that cited "sources." Scores of Iranian assets are currently frozen in many European bank accounts due to the Trump administration's tough sanctions regime on Iran.
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The State Department slapped down these reports as false when asked by the Free Beacon to address the matter.
"These reports are inaccurate," a State Department official told the Free Beacon. "Despite the regime’s disinformation, the truth is that it already has funds available to it to spend on humanitarian trade that would benefit the Iranian people. Instead, it chooses to spend this money on terrorism and proxy groups. The Iranian people deserve better."
Iran has been seeking for years to gain access to frozen assets that have been held in escrow across Europe. While the landmark nuclear deal permitted Iran to access billions of dollars in once-frozen funds, the Trump administration's reimposition of major sanctions cut Iran off from the global financial community.
Those arguing for sanctions relief, including some European allies, want to see Iran granted access to these funds. Trump administration officials maintain that Iran would use this money to bolster its ballistic missile program and fund regional terror groups' operations across the region, including in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.
Humanitarian relief channels have remained open to Iran since the virus first began to ravage the Islamic Republic. This includes medicine and other critical goods that would aid Tehran in its treatment of those sick.
Iran and its allies in the United States—including a cadre of former Obama administration officials—have been pressuring the Trump administration to grant Iran a full pass on sanctions, falsely claiming the country cannot access much-needed medical goods.
The regime also has lied about the number of infected and dead, even going so far as to imprison whistleblowers seeking to expose the regime's lies.
"The regime has imprisoned dozens of Iranians for sharing statistics and forced hospital officials across Iran to falsify the number of cases and deaths," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told the Free Beacon earlier this week.
"We can be sure that the same regime that lied about shooting down a passenger jet and that still hasn't revealed the number of protesters killed last November is not being transparent with the number of cases and deaths from coronavirus today," Ortagus said, referring to Iran's downing of a commercial airliner in January that killed everyone on board.
As of Friday, Iranian officials claimed 32,332 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 2,378 dying. It is likely that number is far higher.
Iranian leaders also claimed on Friday that the United States had taken several of its scientists hostage. This is just the latest unfounded claim to be disseminated by Tehran as it seeks to blame America for engineering the virus.
"US has taken several Iranian scientists hostage—without charge or on spurious sanctions charges—& not releasing them; even when its OWN courts reject the absurd charges," Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted on Friday.