WASHINGTON - The United States on Thursday expanded the list of medical devices that can be exported to Iran without special permission, as it seeks to show support for humanitarian needs in a country that has been hit hard by Western sanctions.
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 making medical isotopes.
Iran's election of a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, last month has raised some hopes for a resolution of the long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear intentions.
US officials have said they have tried to sanction Iran without unduly harming ordinary Iranians, granting licenses, for example, to US companies that want to export pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and other humanitarian goods to Iran.
But acknowledging the difficulties some companies still face, the US Treasury Department on Thursday expanded the list of items that are permitted for export without a special application, adding devices like electrocardiograph and dialysis machines.
David Cohen, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the wider list should allow these medical supplies to get to Iranians more quickly.