(Bloomberg Opinion) — Iranian doctors and nurses, like their peers worldwide, are dealing with an unprecedented public-health crisis: the coronovirus has taken more than 1,900 lives and infected 25,000, according to official statistics. But they are also dealing with a unique challenge as U.S. sanctions exacerbate shortages of crucial medical equipment.

Faced with calls to relax sanctions during the pandemic, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has maintained that the sanctions “do not target imports of food, medicine, and medical equipment, or other humanitarian goods.” But the issue facing Iran’s healthcare system is not about what the sanctions target, but rather what their humanitarian exemptions fail to encompass. On this point, Pompeo is being disingenuous.

The humanitarian exemptions pertain to “medicine” and “medical devices,” terms that

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