U.S. expands list of humanitarian aid to Iran
Newscast Media TEHRAN—The U.S. Department of the Treasury took actions July 25 to reinforce long-standing U.S. government efforts to ensure that the extensive economic and financial sanctions on Iran — adopted to encourage Iran to comply with its international obligations — do not impede Iran’s humanitarian imports.
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) expanded the list of basic medical supplies authorized for export or re-export to Iran under an existing general license by adding hundreds of items. OFAC previously had issued specific licenses authorizing these items. The office also issued clarifying guidance on existing broad authorizations and exceptions applicable to the sale of food, agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices by non-U.S. persons to Iran.
“Today’s action to expand the general license for the export of medical devices to Iran reflects an important element of our sanctions policy. Even as we continue to implement and enforce our rigorous sanctions regime against Iran, we are committed to safeguarding legitimate humanitarian trade,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.
In the July 25 actions, OFAC expanded the list of basic medical supplies authorized for export or re-export under an existing general license, originally issued in October 2012, to include a broad range of medical supplies and devices, including electrocardiography machines (EKGs), electroencephalography machines (EEGs) and dialysis machines, along with other types of equipment that are used by hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in Iran.
These items, which were previously eligible for specific licensing from OFAC, can now be exported without prior approval from the office, Treasury said. Exporters are also encouraged to apply for specific licenses for medical devices that may not be included in the expanded list, the department added.
Even as the U.S. and international sanctions have tightened, the Treasury and State departments have had extensive discussions with foreign pharmaceutical and medical supply companies that sell, export, and get paid for exports to Iran, as well as the foreign financial institutions involved in those transactions, to ensure that the exemptions from U.S. sanctions are understood.
Medicine and medical supply exporters reporting barriers to trade have repeatedly pointed to obstacles placed by the government of Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran’s failure to allocate sufficient foreign currency, Treasury said. “The Central Bank of Iran has access to sufficient foreign currency funds outside of Iran — which are otherwise usable only to fund bilateral trade— to finance the import of medicines and medical equipment,” Treasury said July 25 in announcing the changes.
As OFAC has made clear in its “Clarifying Guidance: Humanitarian Assistance and Related Exports to the Iranian People,” issued February 6, 2013, and in the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations, foreign financial institutions may process transactions for the purchase of humanitarian goods, including food, agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices, using funds in Central Bank of Iran accounts without being subject to U.S. sanctions. The July 25 “Guidance on Sales of Food, Agricultural Commodities, Medicine, and Medical Devices to Iran” is meant to ensure that all parties to these transactions fully understand the broad humanitarian allowances embedded in U.S. sanctions laws, Treasury said.
The July 25 expanded List of Basic Medical Supplies (PDF, 45KB) authorized for export or re-export to Iran, the Guidance on Sales of Food, Agricultural Commodities, Medicine, and Medical Devices to Iran (PDF, 135KB) and the Clarifying Guidance: Humanitarian Assistance and Related Exports to the Iranian People (PDF, 248KB) are available on the Treasury Department website.