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 Home > News & Policies > December 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 31, 2003

Statement by the Deputy Press Secretary

The President has directed Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of the Treasury John Snow to take significant steps to expedite disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations in response to the devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran.

The following steps are being taken today to facilitate the humanitarian relief efforts of the United States and U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs):

The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will issue a general license that temporarily permits U.S. individuals or NGOs to transfer funds to organizations operating in Iran to support humanitarian aid activities associated with the tragic earthquake in and around Bam. Donations of humanitarian relief items such as food, certain medicines, clothing and tents do not require a license.

After consultation with Congress, the Secretary of State has determined that, due to the extraordinary humanitarian needs created by this earthquake, it is in the national interest of the United States to issue additional licenses that will enable the Department of State and USAID as well as U.S. NGOs to export to Iran certain items needed for the management of the relief effort, including controlled items such as transportation equipment, satellite telephones, and radio and personal computing systems.

The Iranian people deserve and need the assistance of the international community to help them recover from the catastrophic results of last week's earthquake. The American people want to help, and share great concern and sympathy for those families and individuals who lost loved ones, their homes and possessions.

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