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US Loosens Sanctions On Medicine Sales to Iran

The Office of Foreign Assets Control has quietly revised some key aspects of the Iranian sanctions, allowing US companies to sell certain medical supplies to Iran. Samuel Cutler and Erich Ferrari write that while these steps could alleviate some humanitarian issues, in no way should this move be interpreted as a general easing of sanctions.
An Iranian man, who was injured in an Iraqi chemical attack during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, uses oxygen as he waits for a doctor at a government-sponsored medical gathering of visiting doctors in the city of Isfahan, 450 km (281 miles) south of Tehran, October 20, 2007. The doctors are in Isfahan to check on the health of the victims. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN)

While most Americans and the US foreign policy elite were focused on last week’s final presidential debate, a small office within the US Treasury Department, without fanfare, rewrote regulations governing key aspects of the Iranian sanctions.

New rules issued Oct. 22 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) — named the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations — implement sanctions contained in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act and Executive Order 13599, which required American institutions to freeze the assets of the Government of Iran, the Central Bank of Iran and all other Iranian financial institutions. However, in an unexpected move, the regulations now permit US companies to sell certain medicines and basic medical supplies to Iran without first seeking a license from OFAC.

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