Iran General NewsU.S. eases rules on sale of medicines to Iran

U.S. eases rules on sale of medicines to Iran


Los Angeles Times: Washington is apparently worried that suffering among ordinary citizens could erode support for the West’s sanctions targeting Tehran’s nuclear program. Los Angeles Times

By Paul Richter

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has quietly eased restrictions on the sale of medicine to Iran amid signs that concern over the suffering of ordinary citizens could complicate an international campaign to punish Iran for its disputed nuclear program.

Though U.S. rules have always permitted American firms to sell medicine and medical supplies to Iran, exporters have been required to apply for special licenses. Last month, the Treasury Department changed the rules to provide what amounts to a “standing authorization” for sales of certain foods and medicines to ease the paperwork burden, a spokesman for the department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control said.

“The goal is not for the sanctions to obstruct this kind of trade,” said the spokesman, who declined to be identified, according to his agency’s policy.

The rule change, first reported on the website, comes at a time when a propaganda battle seems to be shaping up between Iran and the West over whether ordinary Iranians are suffering under the sanctions. The U.S. and European sanctions were sharply tightened last summer, cutting Iran’s oil exports in half, weakening its currency and restricting imports.

Iran’s state-run news media have been stepping up a campaign to blame the West for privations and especially for harming ailing Iranians.

It has been quoting physicians, academics and charity officials about growing difficulty in obtaining medicines and medical supplies because of complications surrounding the purchase of foreign goods. The sanctions have depleted Iran’s foreign currency holdings and made many international financial institutions wary of financing exports to Iran.

Fatemeh Hashemi, head of the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a nongovernmental organization supporting 6 million patients in Iran, has been widely quoted in the Iranian and European news media saying that the sanctions have made it difficult to find medicines for such diseases as hemophilia, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

In comments to the Iranian website Tabnak, she said Iranians with these illnesses were suffering “all because of sanctions against banks or problems with transferring foreign currency.”

Hashemi wrote U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking him to intervene on behalf of Iranian patients who were having their “basic human rights” taken away by the sanctions. She found a sympathetic ear.

Ban said in a subsequent U.N. report that sanctions were, in fact, taking a toll on humanitarian operations in the country. “Even companies that have obtained the requisite license to import food and medicine are facing difficulties in finding third-country banks to process the transactions,” he wrote.

Ismail Salami, an Iranian academic, wrote last week in the Russian newspaper Pravda, “The bitter question is: Is the West taking sadistic pleasure in incurring genocidal deaths, or does the West naively believe that they are achieving their fiendish goals in the Muslim country?”

U.S. officials have recently shown a new sensitivity to the issue. After emphasizing for much of this year their desire to impose “crippling” sanctions to force the Iranian regime to agree to curbs on its nuclear program, this fall officials began emphasizing their reluctance to harm the Iranian public.

“No one likes sanctions,” a senior administration official told reporters in September. “We understand that sanctions sometimes not only hurt countries, but have an effect on people’s day-to-day lives…. But we believe it is necessary for Iran to understand that there are consequences to their not addressing the concerns of the international community.”

Some U.S. officials have expressed doubts about the extent to which the sanctions are responsible for difficulties in the Iranian healthcare system. They note that Iran continues to pay for an expanding nuclear program and for military support for Syria, which faces a growing internal conflict.

U.S. officials also have said that Iran’s economic travails are partly the result of gross mismanagement.

Analysts, however, noted that an outcry over the humanitarian effects could hurt the sanctions effort in several ways, including by making world powers more reluctant to continue with the strictures and by building support for a regime that has limited popular support in Iran.

Observers speculate that the West’s underlying worry is that concern over sanctions could become the kind of international issue that undermined support for the tough measures against Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1990s.

Latest news

What Gas Poisonings In Iran Tell Us About The Ruling Regime

For months schools in Iran have been in the crosshairs of gas attacks against the country’s children. The mullahs’...

Iran’s Regime Inches Toward Nuclear Weapons

Iran’s regime is once again at the center of a dangerous escalation of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. A...

US Congress Expresses Support for Iranian People’s Quest for a Democratic, Secular Republic

Several bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives have presented a resolution (H. RES. 100) supporting the Iranian...

Wave Of Poisoning Attacks Against Schools Leave Hundreds Sick

Iran has been shaken for three months by serial poisoning attacks against all-girls schools, which has left more than...

Iranian Security Forces Beat Baluch Doctor To Death

On Thursday, February 23, activists in Sistan and Baluchestan provinces reported the news of the death of Dr. Ebrahim...

World Powers Should Hear The Voice Of Iranians, Not Dictators And Their Remnants

Iran’s nationwide uprising continues despite its ups and down. The clerical system’s demise no longer seems a dream but...

Must read

Iran seeks to humiliate Britain by parading captured naval boat on streets of Tehran

Daily Mail: The Iranian president today attempted to humiliate...

Sunni killings by Iranian regime’s militias in Iraq

The Iranian regime is actively contributing to the mess...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you