To Save Troops From Deadly Snakes, US Relies on ... Iran
Despite sanctions, we buy antivenin through middleman
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 3, 2012 8:35 AM CST
In this photo taken Tuesday, May 4, 2010, a US Army staff sergeant holds up a harmless rat snake that he found crawling around the outpost in the dark, in Afghanistan's Kandahar province.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

(Newser) – The US leads the charge when it comes to economic sanctions against Iran—but when American soldiers' health is at stake, the military is willing to do a little business with the Islamic republic. Iran produces antivenin against the poisonous snakes of Afghanistan; our own antivenins are toothless against such bites, as they're made from domestic species. Working through a middleman, the US has bought 115 $310 vials of the stuff since January 2011, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal's reporting has prompted a military review to see whether the practice violates sanctions rules. If so, a government waiver may be needed.

According to US Central Command, antivenin from the Razi Vaccine & Serum Research Institute in Iran "should be the first line of antivenin therapy" against Afghan snakes, an officer says. And Razi is OK with that: "We make this to save lives, and it doesn't matter if the person is Iranian or Afghan or American," says a researcher. Razi, which has ties to the World Health Organization, makes the antivenin by injecting small amounts of snake poison into horses, who then produce antibodies against it. But sanctions could cramp Razi's work: It's finding it difficult to obtain the chemicals and gear it needs to produce the substance.

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
HANKHILL
Dec 4, 2012 11:16 AM CST
wow and how in the hell do we know what the "bad guys" put in this "stuff" i would rather eat the snake!
bewilderbeast
Dec 4, 2012 7:01 AM CST
All soldiers are heroes, so we can't point out that: "a military review to see whether the practice violates sanctions rules. If so, a government waiver may be needed" MEANS: They broke the law, now they are going to get permission to break the law. Sounds just the military to me. They wouldn't know "truth" or "the right thing" if it kicked them in the teeth.
getoffmylawn
Dec 3, 2012 11:17 AM CST
Now that Rupert Murdochs WSJ has exposed this civilized arrangement, government idiots will have to step in and remedy an unacceptable situation. Halliburton will get a billion dollar contract to produce the same anti-venom and it will be inferior. The Iranian will be executed.