Will Iran accept foreign aid after a strong earthquake killed 37 people and injured dozens close to the country’s first nuclear plant, normally off-limits to civilians?
The U.N. immediately offered assistance, but the government of the Islamic Republic is yet to reply to the offer.
“The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance and to mobilize any international support that may be needed,” a statement from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said.
Currently the relief operations are being led by the Iranian Red Crescent Society (ICRS), which has dispatched three helicopters, dozens of ambulances and about 100 relief workers, the U.N Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its latest situation update.
The ICRS is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Foreign aid accepted before
In August 2012 Iran received international aid after two earthquakes left more than 300 dead, 3,000 injured and 50,000 displaced along its borders with Armenia and Azerbajian.
Tehran initially declined foreign assistance but finally accepted international aid under one condition: all offers would be vetted by the government.
Even the United States for the first time allowed U.S. NGOs first to donate food and medicine and later money to charities helping the victims of the quakes, despite American economic sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
Washington however stressed that humanitarian aid would only be exempt from the sanctions as long as donations were not sent to the government or individuals and entities blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Nevertheless, the 2012 disaster occurred far away from the Bushehr plant, a tightly guarded site built by Russian engineers and scrutinised by the West over the true intentions behind Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Tehran informed the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency that no damage or radioactive leakage had been detected at the plant.
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