U.S. Treasury Authorizes Assistance for Iran Earthquake Victims
By MacKenzie C. Babb
IIP Staff Writer
August 21, 2012
The U.S. Treasury Department has lifted restrictions to make it easier for American nongovernmental organizations to offer financial aid to earthquake victims in Iran.
“The United States has made it clear that it would offer assistance to the Iranian people as they recover and rebuild” following the August 11 earthquake that ravaged northwestern Iran, said an August 21 statement from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
The statement said that though the Iranian government has not accepted the U.S. offer of assistance, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been helping in the relief work.
“To assist their efforts, OFAC issued a temporary general license today which authorizes, for the next 45 days, NGOs with 501(c)(3) status to collect funds to be used in direct support of humanitarian relief and reconstruction activities in response to the earthquake,” the statement said.
It said the move demonstrates the commitment of President Obama’s administration “to supporting the Iranian people affected by this tragedy” and also “responds to the American people’s desire to provide immediate assistance.”
News sources report at least 300 people were killed by the earthquake, which left many more injured and thousands homeless.
Under the general license, which will remain in effect to October 5, an NGO may transfer up to $300,000 to Iran for humanitarian relief and reconstruction activities related to the earthquake response. Organizations interested in offering more financial assistance may apply for a specific license to do so.
The new license specifically forbids any involvement with individuals or entities designated for support of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or terrorism as listed on the Treasury Department’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List).
Donations of food and medicine to Iran did not previously require a license from the Treasury Department. They are exempt from U.S. sanctions as long as the aid is not sent to the Iranian government or anyone on the SDN List, the Treasury Department said.