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Monday, April 15th 2013

Iranian Medicine & Sanctions

Like many I have mixed feelings about sanctions against horrific places like North Korea, Iraq and Iran. Muting the costs of the sanctions on the local populace is a difficult task. Loathe to link to anything Alex Jones the article on his site has a number of good links and a number of legitimate points.

They imposed a medieval embargo and tried to starve the nation into submission. The result was over 500,000 dead children, which Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright said was a price worth paying. Over the span of ten years, child mortality in Iraq went from one of the lowest in the world, to the highest.

And now, similar things are happening in Iran. For lack of supplies Iran’s health care system is struggling.

Starting last fall, however, Iran appears to have run out of basic surgical supplies, owing to sanctions designed to limit the country’s nuclear program. Despite a “humanitarian assistance” loophole built into the sanctions, reports from inside Iran, some in English and some in Farsi, claim shortages of anesthetics have threatened closures of operating rooms.

[...]

Though it’s legal to sell medicine to Iran, the sales must pass through a byzantine process of currency transfers and third-party banking, to avoid doing business with Iranian financial institutions—most of which are sanctioned. The result is a massive disincentive to do business, her report argues. Pharmaceutical companies, turned off by the risk, simply turn their attention to less demanding markets. “A Western company that wants to sell medicine to Iran has no legal assurance of being paid,” Slavin said.

[...]

Because banks can’t do deals in direct ways with Iran, it’s extremely risky for a pharmaceutical company to extend credit there. But pharmaceutical deals are huge, and almost always conducted on delayed payment.

“Novartis and Pfizer used to give their distributors something like 20 to 50 million [dollars] in credit,” said Namazi. “From the day you needed the medicine to the day it was in the pharmacy was three weeks. If you needed it fast, DHL would get it to you the next day.”

Instead, Iran’s entire national health system has to operate on a cash-and-carry deal. And DHL no longer services Iran, he said.

The United States should have a stated goal of preventing Iran from gaining nuclear power and indeed more, regime change in Iran. I don’t support a unilateral strike to achieve such. And apparently I don’t support sanctions either. Do I contradict myself? Well then, I contradict myself.

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