01 January 2004

U.S. Acts to Expedite Assistance to Iran Earthquake Victims

Issuing special licenses for humanitarian organizations

Secretary of State Colin Powell has determined that, in response to the overwhelming humanitarian needs created by the earthquake in Iran, the U.S. will issue special licenses enabling the Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and U.S. nongovernmental organizations to export critically needed items for the Iranian relief effort.

"At this time of great emergency, we must do everything we can to help people in desperate need," Secretary Powell said.

Following is the text of a statement issued by the State Department on December 31:

(begin text)

State Department
Press Statement
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 31, 2003

U.S. Expedites Assistance to Iran Earthquake Victims

At the direction of President George W. Bush, the United States has initiated a number of extraordinary steps to facilitate the engagement of U.S. relief organizations to assist the victims of last week's earthquake in Iran.

After consultation with Congress, Secretary of State Powell 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.

Secretary Powell said "at this time of great emergency, we must do everything we can to help people in desperate need." The Department of State is working closely with the Department of the Treasury, USAID, other U.S. government agencies, and Congress to facilitate this process.

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.

OFAC will also issue today a license to a group of NGOs currently registered with USAID to enable them to operate for an initial period of 30 days. If during that period these organizations believe more time will be needed for their emergency humanitarian activities, they should apply to OFAC for an extension.

Other NGOs will be able to apply to OFAC for licenses, which will be reviewed on an expedited basis and issued retroactive to December 26, 2003. For further information, or to apply for a license, call (202) 622-2480 or fax license applications to (202) 622-0447.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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