Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian says Iran will use its funds blocked in neighboring Iraq to purchase vaccines from Russia against the COVID-19 disease.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with visiting Iraqi Electricity Minister Majid Mahdi Hantoush in Tehran on Sunday, Ardakanian said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered that the money needed for buying COVID-19 vaccines be provided from funds held in different parts of the world.
"According to an agreement between Iran and Russia, part of Iraq’s debt to Iran will be spent on purchasing Russian vaccines," the minister said.
Ardakanian said necessary arrangements with Baghdad and Moscow have been made and "we expect that the first payments will be made in the coming days.”
Iran has billions of dollars in a Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) account which processes Iraq’s payments for imports of natural gas and electricity from Iran.
However, the funds have been frozen because of the US sanctions on Iran which restrict the use of the dollar for transactions involving Tehran.
The inhumane US sanctions have seriously hampered the Islamic Republic’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected 2,516,157 Iranians and killed 72,090 others.
Iranian Red Crescent imports largest vaccine cargo
On Sunday, the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) announced that it has imported the largest consignment of COVID-19 vaccines from China.
“This consignment of one million doses of the coronavirus vaccine arrived today at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport,” said IRCS Secretary-General Mohammad Hassan Ghosian Moghaddam.
Other than importing reliable foreign vaccines, Iran has developed its own vaccines which are currently in the last phases of human trials.