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US fails to shield humanitarian trade with Iran as sanctions loom

European governments are urging the Trump administration to identify a legal means for their companies to continue to provide food and medicine to Iranians after the Nov. 5 re-imposition of secondary sanctions begins.
Iranians shop at a drugstore at the Nikan hospital in Tehran on September 11, 2018. - Judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague unanimously ruled Washington should remove barriers to "the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities" as well as airplane parts. Iran produces 96 percent of the drugs it uses, according to the Syndicate of Iranian Pharmaceutical Industries, but imports more than half the raw materials to make them. (Photo by STRING

European countries seeking to preserve the Iran nuclear deal in the face of resumed US sanctions are urging the Donald Trump administration to clarify how they can continue to legally provide food, medicine and medical devices to Iran.

Humanitarian trade is supposed to be exempt from the sanctions, which go back into full effect on Nov. 5. But with European banks reluctant to finance any transactions with Iran for fear of jeopardizing their much more lucrative US business, it remains unclear how crucial items will continue to flow to the Iranian people.

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