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Iranians feel sanctions pain but back nuclear drive: poll
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 8, 2013

The vast majority of Iranians feel the pain of sanctions but still support a civilian nuclear program, a poll said, as a study on Friday charged that Western efforts have caused medicine shortages.

The US polling firm Gallup, which spoke to 1,000 Iranians by telephone over December and January, found that 83 percent said that international economic sanctions personally affected their livelihoods.

Nearly half of Iranians said the United States was most responsible for the sanctions and only 10 percent blamed their own government, with a smaller number putting the onus on Israel or Europe.

Despite the sanctions, 63 percent of Iranians said that the country "should continue to develop its nuclear power capabilities." Iran's clerical government says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Western officials have voiced fear that Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, and Israel and the United States have not ruled out a military strike to prevent it from doing so.

After initial overtures to Tehran, President Barack Obama has pursued sanctions aimed at choking off Iran's economy. Iran is estimated to have lost billions of dollars in oil sales and the value of its currency has plummeted.

The United States has repeatedly said that its sanctions -- which penalize any entity that deals with Iran's central bank -- exempt humanitarian goods.

But a report presented to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said that the fall in pharmaceutical exports to Iran was causing harm and was undeniably triggered by international sanctions.

"The pronounced role of sanctions in creating shortages of life-saving medical supplies and drugs in Iran may have been unintentional, but it is also irrefutable," said the report.

The study, written by consultant Siamak Namazi, said that "Iran's own mismanagement of the situation aggravated the problem" but that the root cause was the exclusion of Iran from the international banking system.

Most Western companies want virtually nothing to do with Iran for fear of US fines that could exceed $1 billion, the report said.

It said that a representative of a major Iranian pharmaceutical country flew to Paris to show a French bank that the transaction was legal but was told: "Even if you bring a letter from the French president himself saying it is okay to do so, we will not risk this."

It said that many patented Western drugs were irreplaceable and quoted an Iranian doctor saying that patients who turned to an Indian drug in chemotherapy suffered major side-effects, including "terrible cases of skin peeling."


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