As the Trump administration illegitimately reimposes nuclear sanctions on Iran, Iranian doctors are warning about shortages of medicine that they need for treating their patients:

Worries about the impacts of the new blanket sanctions are particularly high among Iran’s health sector. Ahmad Ghavideh, the head of Iran’s haemophilia society, said the lives of at least 12,000 patients with bleeding disorders in Iran will be put at immediate risk when the country’s supply of medicine runs out.

“We believe that sanctions are in fact worse than waging a classic war, because when you’re in the war situation at least civilian buildings, and targets are supposed to be spared, while with sanctions in this scale, a whole nation has been targeted,” he said.

Collectively punishing all Iranians in an attempt to force changes in regime behavior is unjustified. The U.S. has no legitimate reason for reimposing these sanctions. As long as Iran complied with the terms of the JCPOA, the U.S. was supposed to remove all the relevant nuclear sanctions and allow Iran to benefit from normal commerce again. When the president reneged on the deal, he was choosing to go back on that commitment to provide sanctions relief. There is no international legal basis for what the U.S. is doing to Iran right now, and the U.S. is in fact in flagrant violation of UNSCR 2231, the Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal. This won’t be any consolation for the Iranians unjustly deprived of their medicine, but it is important to understand that the U.S. is in the wrong on this and other governments are correct in their determination to oppose and work around the sanctions.

The administration’s response to concerns that the sanctions will interrupt the supply of humanitarian goods has been just as arrogant and dismissive as one would expect:

“The burden is not on the United States to identify the safe channels,” Hook told reporters. “ We have done our part to permit the sale of humanitarian goods to Iran. That is our part. That is our role. Iran has a role to make these transactions possible. Banks do not have confidence in Iran’s banking system … That’s Iran’s problem; it is not our problem.”

The U.S. government has made it extremely difficult for foreign businesses to work with Iran’s financial institutions without risking penalties, and that inevitably cuts off access to importing many medicines and other humanitarian goods. The administration is keeping up the pretense that they are “permitting” the sale of these goods while making it practically impossible to bring those goods into the country. No one should be fooled by this. Iranians are facing shortages of humanitarian goods because the U.S. government can’t be bothered to tell anyone how to proceed without incurring Washington’s punishment:

Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said: “The administration has told the Europeans: we are not going to go the extra mile in reassuring European companies on this front.

“I have spoken to a number of European pharmaceutical companies and they say their banks have flagged they are going to struggle to deal with any payments from Iran,” Geranmayeh added. “This is not consistent with the Trump administration’s declared policy that sanctions are not against the Iranian people.”

Of course, that “declared policy” is a lie that administration officials have been telling the public and Congress to make the policy seem less cruel and unjust than it is. No one should believe them. Strangling an entire country’s economy is necessarily a hostile act against the civilian population, and there is no way that it couldn’t be. Claiming that you are on the side of the people you are impoverishing just adds condescending insult to very real injuries.