Sanctions Policy Revision Approved Clinton Endorses Food, Medical Sales
WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration announced a major shift in economic sanctions policy yesterday that will permit U.S. firms to sell food and medicine to Iran, Sudan and Libya, three countries listed by the State Department as sponsors of international terrorism.
Senior administration officials billed the change as a matter of economic and political common sense, not an effort to improve relations with those countries. Bans on the sale of commodities and medicine are rarely effective, Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat said, and cut off promising export markets for U.S. farmers and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
NOT MEANT AS A SIGNAL
"It's not targeted to send a signal to any particular country," Eizenstat said at a State Department briefing. "It is part of our overall sanctions reform."
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been signaling Iran for months that Washington is prepared for improved relations, but Eizenstat said yesterday that the administration has discerned little positive change in Iranian behavior on key strategic issues.
According to Eizenstat, the administration has decided that it makes sense to permit countries such as Iran to buy U.S. food and medicine because the money spent on such products is not available for nefarious purposes.
"Sales of food, medicine and other human necessities do not generally enhance a nation's military capacities or support terrorism," he said. …