Iraq has agreed to transfer $125 million of frozen Iranian funds to a European bank for the purchase of 16 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian was quoted as saying by state media on Saturday.
Iran, the hardest hit Middle Eastern country by COVID-19, has complained that US sanctions were preventing it from making payments to buy vaccines.
Ardakanian said the payments would go towards the purchase of vaccines from the World Health Organisation-sponsored global COVAX vaccine-sharing plan, state news agency IRNA reported.
There was no immediate confirmation by Iraqi officials of the reported release of Iran’s funds to buy the vaccines.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday Iran and six world powers have made significant progress in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear deal but important issues still need to be resolved.
“Each round of talks in Vienna could have been the final round. We should not rush. We have made significant progress but key issues remain,” Saeed Khatibzadeh told a televised weekly news conference.
“There has been no stalemate on the Vienna talks.”
After former US President Donald Trump ditched the deal three years ago and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran has been rebuilding stockpiles of low-enriched uranium, enriching it to higher levels of fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up production.
President Joe Biden has said Washington will return to the pact if Tehran first resumes compliance with its strict limits on uranium enrichment, a potential pathway to nuclear bombs.
“All sanctions should be lifted and then it should be verified by Iran…then we will reverse our nuclear steps,” Khatibzadeh said.
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