OFAC tired of reacting to every earthquake ever…adds two new GLs to Iran program

In a very good move, OFAC issued two general licenses that should both assist in clarifying and bolstering a passage of the CFR as well as substituting for the possibility of a plethora of other general licenses in the future for humanitarian crises in Iran.   General License E   Generally when a tectonic plate is named after your country, it’s bad news. It’s even worse when that isn’t the only fault line to run through you. In a year long period we saw three earthquakes and in this past decade we have had about 30,000 deaths from earthquakes in Iran. But even for earthquakes where fatalities may not be particularly high, property damage is excessive. This means destruction of infrastructure, clogging of critical supply routes (think of how barren an NYC grocery store would be if the GW Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel collapsed), loss of homes, possible inaccessibility to well water, the list of misery goes on. Without relief, it is quite possible more people will die from starvation, disease and the elements than were killed by the event itself. A good way to mitigate the misery is through humanitarian donations, which is  of itself a very broad category. For the actual donation of goods, 31 CFT 560.201 (b) covers that: (b) Humanitarian donations. The prohibitions of §§ 560.204 and 560.206 do not apply to donations by United States persons of articles, such as food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering. What this passage does not cover however is the multitude of other non-profit activities that are required for the relief of human suffering. 210(b) only covers the donation of these articles but does not cover the exportation of financial services to provide funds for humanitarian operations. For instance, lets say a bridge is down on a critical supply route and a temporary bridge needs to be put up. The Iranian army is too busy conducting terrorism and human rights violations somewhere else and thus can’t get the appropriate bridging equipment on site, and thus to relieve human suffering an NGO has to contract out to have a temp strung up. This would generally warrant a specific license if it is for earthquake relief and typically instead of OFAC tackling tons of specific licenses, they will issue a general license covering that specific earthquake. The problem is, issuing a GL takes time and OFAC still has to deal with the initial wave of licenses. Instead, they have issued General License E which covers all future natural disasters. Not only does this relieve the burden on OFAC, but it also allows NGOs to swing into action quicker. Interestingly, GL E has also worked in some language that was very similar to one of the earlier Burma GLs that supports both democracy and peace building. In fact, the language in paragraph (a)(1) of GL E is almost the same word-for-word for the language in GL 14-C under the Burma program, while the language in paragraph (a)(4) is very similar as well.   General License F     As for the other general license issued, GL F now explicitly authorizes the exportation and importation of financial services to and from Iran for sports games. If anyone remembers, there was a bit of controversy regarding an Iranian soccer ref and this is the clear cut response from OFAC. Part of this stems from how one could interpret 31 CFR 560.554, particularly the portion that reads: …the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply of services directly related to the sponsorship by a U.S. person of a public conference or other...

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