US Relaxes Sanctions on Medicine Sales to Iran

Fears Bans on Food, Medicine Could 'Erode Support' for Sanctions

Taking a break from the usual strategy of imposing new sanctions against Iran every week or so, the Obama Administration’s Office of Foreign Asset Control has announced a slight easing of sanctions related to medicine and food sales to Iran.

Before, anyone trying to sell any sort of medicine to Iran had to get a special license from the administration to do so. Now, the Treasury Department is offering a “standing authorization” on certain types of medicine that will “ease the paperwork burden.”

It isn’t a humanitarian endeavor, according to officials, but rather an attempt to placate Western critics of an array of sanctions which are increasingly targeting innocent Iranian civilians by removing some of the most cited criticisms.

Whether the change will actually make it any easier to send medicine to Iran remains to be seen, as many aid groups, which supposedly didn’t need Treasury Department permission in the first place, were finding it almost impossible to ship aid to the nation because of a number of poorly worded executive orders and a general sense that any dealings, legal or not, are “frowned upon.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.