WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday rejected a call by a US anti-Iran group for it to cut its relations with Tehran's central bank in order to adhere to US and European sanctions.
The IMF said its account with Bank Markazi is simply related to Iran's membership in the IMF and does not contravene sanctions placed on Tehran to pressure it not to develop nuclear weapons.
The advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, a group of US ex-diplomats and government officials, said that the IMF needed to shut down its account with Bank Markazi, a specific target of the sanctions, or suspend Iran's membership in the fund.
It also criticized the IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, for meeting with Bank Markazi's chief during the IMF's spring meeting last month in Washington, and for allegedly "lavishing praise on Iran and Bank Markazi."
"The IMF must also stop treating the Iranian regime like a responsible government in good standing at a time when the international community is trying to isolate it."
But IMF spokesman William Murray said the IMF's account at Iran's central bank is simply there to hold the Iranian funds committed to the IMF as an obligation of its membership in the crisis lender.
"According to our constitution... the IMF's holdings of each member's currency are maintained with the central bank of the relevant member, including Iran," Murray said.
"There is nothing in the EU or US sanctions regimes that is inconsistent with these arrangements."
As for UANI's call to suspend Iran's membership in the 188-member Fund, Murray said: "This is a matter that is best taken up with the Fund's member countries. We have no comment."
UANI is a group of former US diplomats, security officials, academics and others aimed at raising pressure on Tehran.
Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, is the group's president.
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