Looking to Help Iran Earthquake Victims? Easier Said Than Done Under Sanctions

Efforts to Send Aid Stymied by Administration

After a massive earthquake hit Iran in late 2003, the Bush Administration adjusted anti-Iran sanctions to allow civilian humanitarian aide to be send to the nation. Americans, particularly of Iranian descent, came through big time.

This time, not so much.

It’s not that people are less generous: indeed a number of people genuinely want to aide Iran after last weekend’s quake and some have even tried to do so. It isn’t happening, however, as the Obama Administration keeps adding sanctions and companies are so afraid of running afoul of the ever-tightening regime, that even things individuals ought to be able to send legally to Iran, like food and medicine, are getting stopped before they leave the country.

The Obama Administration is claiming that the sanctions “don’t apply” to earthquake aide, but the reality is that the law hasn’t changed, and the deliberate ambiguities in how far the sanctions extend make testing this all but impossible for the average American.

Nominally, sending cash to relatives in Iran is legal. Finding a bank that will actually let you do so is impossible. Sending food or medicine is supposed to be legal too, but even the US Post Office, which one would figure would be up on the law, won’t let any such shipments go out.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.