WASHINGTON - Exports of US pharmaceuticals to Iran were cut in half last year, according to data released on Friday, while overall US exports to the Islamic republic rose about 9 percent because of grain sales.
The official US government statistics appear to support the claims of sanctions lawyers and some independent experts that financial sanctions are making it harder for Iranians to obtain medicine despite loopholes designed to permit such trade.
The United States and its European allies have tightened their economic sanctions on Iran to pressure the government to rein in its nuclear program, which the West suspects aims to produce a bomb. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.
US officials have said they have tried to sanction Iran without unduly harming ordinary Iranians, for example granting licenses to US companies who wish to export pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and other humanitarian goods to Iran.