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US Announces Successful Initial Transactions Through Humanitarian Channel for Iran

U.S. sanctions on Iran do not include food, medicine and other humanitarian commodities but sanction have made it increasingly difficult to import such items. Pharmacy in Tehran. FILE PHOTO

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on January 30 announced the completion of initial financial transactions benefitting Iranian medical patients through a humanitarian channel in Switzerland.

In a press release on 30 January the Department of Treasury ​said cancer and transplant patients will be receiving treatments through this channel which is "subject to strict due diligence measures to avoid misuse by the Iranian regime".

According to the press release, Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that the United States is determined to ensure the Iranian people have access to food, life-saving medicines, and other humanitarian goods "despite the regime’s economic mismanagement and wasteful funding of malign activities across the region".

Simultaneously, Switzerland announced that a payment mechanism to enable humanitarian goods to be delivered to Iran is about to be implemented.

The Federal Council of Switzerland in a press release on January 30 ​ said Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), a payment mechanism to enable humanitarian goods to be delivered to Iran, is about to be implemented and that an initial payment for the shipment of medicines to Iran had been approved on 27 January in the form of a trial run.

The shipment consists of cancer drugs and drugs required for organ transplants. The medicines are valued at approximately 2.3 million euros (approximately $2.5 million). "As the SHTA is not yet in force, the US Treasury has given the necessary assurances to the Swiss bank involved for this specific transaction," the press release said.

Swiss exporters faced increasingly difficult problems in supplying humanitarian goods to Iran since the United States' withdrawal from the world power's nuclear agreement with Iran (JCPOA) in May 2018 and reintroduced unilateral sanctions on the country. Humanitarian goods are not directly sanctioned, however, complications arising from the sanctions and the legal risks involved in trading with Iran stopped financial institutions from making payments in connection with Iran.

A number of Swiss companies such as Nestle, Hoffman La Roche, and Novartis currently produce baby formula and medicine in Iran.