United States and European Union sanctions against Iran prevent much needed medical care for the Iranian people. Those with cancer, for example, have lost the option of treatment through chemotherapy while hemophiliacs are at high risk for any surgery due to a denial of essential pharmaceuticals. There are 85,000 new cases of cancer every year in Iran. Those with cancer and the newly diagnosed will have to do without effective treatments. A large percentage of them will die sooner than anticipated as a result. (Image: Fergal of Calldagh)
The Iranian medical community is unable to get required medicines due to financial restrictions in the sanctions regime. The restrictions effectively blocks pharmaceutical purchases by Iranian medical facilities. No ticket, no laundry is the policy of big and little pharma throughout the world. As a result, right now -- as you read this -- innocent Iranians are dying, sentenced to death by the U.S.-E.U. sanctions.
Who on earth would initiate and sustain such a policy?
You guessed it. The Obama administration, the leaders of the NATO countries and other wannabe tough-guy nations are behind the comprehensive sanctions designed to get Iran to stop its nuclear program. Here is how tough the sanctions are. Former UN ambassador, the very right wing John Bolton, described the E.U. sanctions as "brutal."
Iran's banks were taken off the international financial transaction network known as SWIFT. Without access to SWIFT, Iranian banks cannot execute purchases outside of the country. Even though certain medicines are exempted from the sanctions regime, the inability to purchase those medicines caused by removal from SWIFT makes it as though they were banned.
The Guardian quoted U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson, John Sullivan, on the subject:
there is in fact a shortage of some medicines in Iran, it is due to
choices made by the Iranian government, not the US government." December 5, 2012
Sullivan's statement is absurd. We're punishing the Iranian people for what the Iranian government is doing. That makes no sense at all. Successive U.S. administrations have denied the legitimacy of that government. How can the Obama administration argue that the government is not representative of the people and, at the same time, punish the people by denying vital medical care?
Periodically, U.S. officials call for the Iranian people to rise up and replace their leaders. How can the people do that if they're sick, dead or dying? Why would they want to replace their leaders with a U.S. - E.U. alternative when the purported liberators deny medical treatment at the very time they call the Iranian leadership inhumane and a threat to world peace?
Back to the Future - Iraq Sanctions
According to an exhaustive study by Richard Garfield, RN, D.Ph., Columbia University School of Public Health, 227,000 children under five died in Iraq due to trade sanctions from 1990 through 1998. The Columbia study considered previous estimates and came to this figure after extensive analysis. There were many more deaths in Iraq as a result of sanctions but this subgroup shows the public health impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable segments of the population. Did killing any of those children ease the presumed threat to the Middle East posed by the defeated regime of Saddam Hussein? Was their very deliberate sacrifice worth it?
The deaths of these children were no secret. The precise number of deaths may not have been known to the Clinton administration but the fact that denying medicine caused many deaths certainly was.
Then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright captured the prevailing (and unchanged) attitude when she responded to a question by 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl in 1996.
Stahl: "We have heard that half a million children died. That's more children that died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?
Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice but the price, we think the price is worth it." CBS News, May 12, 1996
Apparently, the price of Iranian sanctions is worth punishing everyone in Iran including children, cancer patients, and hemophiliacs.