Despite a massive coronavirus-related public health crisis, an anti-Iran pressure group with close ties to the Trump administration is urging major pharmaceutical companies to “end their Iran business,” focusing on companies with special licenses — most often under a broadly defined “humanitarian exemption” — to conduct trade with Iran.
With a novel strain of coronavirus rapidly spreading around the world, Iran has been hit particularly hard, with 107 deaths and 3,515 infections recorded so far. Yet the pressure group, United Against Nuclear Iran, is carrying on with its campaign targeting medical trade with Iran despite the Trump administration’s special financial channels for humanitarian goods and medicine to reach the beleaguered country.
“U.S. sanctions have had a long-term impact on Iran’s ability to freely import medical supplies,” said Tyler Cullis, an attorney specializing in sanctions law at Ferrari & Associates. He pointed to “outside groups” that seek to bolster the Treasury Department’s investigatory heft and provide information on companies doing trade with Iran. “In tandem with U.S. sanctions,” Cullis said, “these groups have sought to impose reputational costs on companies that engage in lawful and legitimate trade with Iran, including humanitarian trade.”