Treasury: US banks won’t be sanctioned over humanitarian aid to Iran

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The U.S. Treasury has stated that banks processing payments for humanitarian aid to Iran will not face penalties due to U.S. sanctions.

Foreign banks will not be punished for funding health and medical supplies, U.S. officials said. These supplies include items such as hand sanitizer, ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE), all of which are essential to mitigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Like much of the world, Iran saw a large spike in coronavirus cases once colder seasons began. The country has so far confirmed more than 1 million cases and more than 50,000 deaths.

Apart from medical equipment, processing payments to pay for staffing at international organizations and missions will also be exempted from the sanctions Reuters reports.

An official wrote, “The United States maintains broad exceptions … that allow for the commercial sale and export of humanitarian goods.”

This clarification follows calls from European leaders for leniency from the Trump administration, saying broad sanctions would get in the way of necessary humanitarian trade.

In October, Trump issued far-reaching sanctions targeting 18 banks. The move faced criticism for its potential to disrupt humanitarian aid in the middle of a pandemic.

The sanctions were made to push Iran to stop its nuclear program and prevent it from funding military action in the Middle East region.

Iran’s economy has been devastated by the U.S. sanctions. The value of its currency, the rial, has dropped enormously since the U.S. backed out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, dropping by 70 percent.

Part of the sanctions barred Americans from dealing with Iranian banks and added secondary sanctions against foreign companies that worked with them. Violating these sanctions could mean losing access to the U.S. market for many of these companies.

President-elect Joe Biden has indicated that the U.S. will attempt to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal under his administration set to begin in January. Overall, Biden has signaled that his presidency will be more amiable to the international stage than Trump’s.

One challenge that may stand in his way is the recent assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was believed to be in charge of a program looking into building a nuclear weapon.

Iranian officials have pointed a finger at Israel for Fakhrizadeh’s death.

Tags Donald Trump Humanitarian aid Iran–United States relations Joe Biden Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Nuclear program of Iran United States sanctions against Iran

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