Is a humane softening of US sanctions on Iran currently in the works? A new US Treasury announcement suggests this is the case, as it is "taking steps to ease sales of food and medicine to Iran amid stringent sanctions imposed on the country by the Trump administration," according to the AP.
Critics of Trump's far reaching sanctions after the May 2018 US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), which especially hit the energy, banking, aviation, and auto sectors, have long argued the economic punitive measures have only served to make life miserable for the common populace, depriving people of outside food and medicine shipments, as well as safety-related technology, similar to the humanitarian crisis that unfolded in sanctioned Iraq under Saddam in the 1990's.
A new "humanitarian mechanism" will seek to ensure crucial aid can still get inside the country. An official statement on the treasury website announced Friday morning:
This mechanism will help the international community perform enhanced due diligence on humanitarian trade to ensure that funds associated with permissible trade in support of the Iranian people are not diverted by the Iranian regime to develop ballistic missiles, support terrorism, or finance other malign activities.
It will seek to only allow "permissible trade" to support "the Iranian people" even while continuing to isolate the regime's political and military leadership.
“This administration remains committed to the unfettered flow of humanitarian aid to the Iranian people, who have suffered for forty years under the mismanagement of this corrupt regime. This new humanitarian mechanism will help international companies that seek to engage in permissible humanitarian trade with Iran to ensure that they do not run afoul of sanctions,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said as part of the new mechanism.
Over the past months Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has warned the only way it would enter into negotiations with the Trump administration, as the US president previously sought, is conditioned on immediate sanctions relief.
Until then, it's promised to gradually pull out of its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA by continuing to breach Uranium enrichment caps agreed to in 2015.
Though this latest measure which seeks to soften the sanctions impact on the common populace is unlikely to cause any level of rejoicing in Tehran, it could be the start of an eventual opening after a hot summer of boiling tensions and dangerous 'tanker wars' in the Gulf.