President Trump announced today, May 8, 2018, that the United States will withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal and will begin reimposing previously waived sanctions on Iran. The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was signed by the U.S. in July 2015 along with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Iran. The White House issued a statement which explained that “President Trump is terminating United States participation in the JCPOA, as it failed to protect America’s national security interests.”
On April 15, 2018, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) issued a denial order against ZTE Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. (collectively “ZTE”), effectively banning U.S. companies from providing components to ZTE because the company had failed to comply with the terms of a disciplinary agreement reached in March 2017 arising from violations of U.S. export control restrictions against Iran and North Korea. It is estimated that U.S. companies provide nearly 25-30 percent of the components used in ZTE products. ZTE’s U.S. subsidiary advertises that it has been ranked by independent industry analysts as the fourth-largest supplier of mobile devices in the U.S. overall and second-largest supplier of prepaid devices.
On March 15, 2018 the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) exercised its authority to issue cyber sanctions under Executive Order 13694 and the new Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) by imposing blocking sanctions against 5 Russian entities and 19 Russian individuals connected to previous Russian cyber operations directed towards the United States. In an accompanying press release, OFAC stated that these sanctions were intended to counter Russian destabilizing activities such as interference in the 2016 US election, the 2017 global NotPetya cyber-attack and other cyber-attacks directed at critical U.S. infrastructure sectors. One aspect of this move was somewhat puzzling, because 9 of the total 24 sanctioned entities and individuals were already subject to blocking sanctions for their previous activities. For those 9 sanctioned entities and individuals, (which include Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (the GRU), whose initial designation we covered here), it is unclear what OFAC seeks to accomplish by imposing blocking sanctions against them for a second time.
On Friday, February 23, 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) imposed blocking sanctions against one individual, twenty-seven entities and twenty-eight vessels known to have previously provided maritime support to North Korean coal and petroleum transactions. OFAC added the individuals, entities and vessels to its Specially Designated Nationals List (the “SDN List”), which will generally prohibit the fifty-six sanctioned parties from transacting with the United States or any United States person.
Continue Reading OFAC Issues Additional North Korean Sanctions and Guidance for Shipping Companies
Congress enacted the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) on August 2, 2017 in response to Russia’s continuing occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and cyber-interference in the 2018 United States Presidential elections. We previously covered CAATSA in blog posts here and here. CAATSA was notable because it passed the House of Representatives with a 419-3 approval margin and passed the Senate with a 98-2 approval margin. Among other things, CAATSA required President Donald Trump to take certain actions on the 180-day anniversary of CAATSA’s adoption, which included (but were not limited to): (i) imposing sanctions (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 231 sanctions”) against persons engaged in “significant transactions” with Russia’s defense or intelligence sectors; and (ii) preparing and submitting a report (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 241 report”) to various congressional committees identifying senior political figures and oligarchs within Russia. January 29, 2018 marked CAATSA’s 180-day anniversary and, as a result, it sparked a flurry of activity related to the CAATSA Section 231 sanctions and the CAATSA Section 241 report. Continue Reading Russia Sanctions Developments Incite Controversy and Signal Possible Future Changes
The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has amended its Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR) in order to impose additional sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) within the timeline required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Effective October 31, 2017, persons and entities that OFAC has designated as officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC remain subject to secondary blocking sanctions which continue to prohibit them from engaging in activity with US and non-US persons and, in addition, these amendments to the GTSR now impose new sanctions to prohibit the designated IRGC affiliates from receiving humanitarian donations and other forms of assistance. OFAC has provided a list of the IRGC affiliates subject to these amendments here. Continue Reading OFAC and State Department Update Iran and Russia Sanctions Under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act
On October, 6, the U.S. Department of State announced it will issue a report to President Donald Trump which will express the Department’s conclusion that the Government of Sudan (“GOS”) has sustained the positive actions necessary in order to repeal the majority of current U.S. economic sanctions against Sudan. The Department of State will formally publish a copy of this report in the Federal Register on Thursday, October 12, 2017, but has provided an advance copy on their website.
On Tuesday, September 26, the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on banks and representatives linked to North Korean financial networks. These sanctions come as a response to North Korea’s violations of UN resolutions and attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
OFAC identified 26 North Korean nationals working in China, Russia, Libya, and the UAE as representatives of North Korean banks. In addition, eight financial institutions were added to the Specially Designated Nationals list, several of which have branches in China.
On Thursday, September 21, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on North Korea designed to curb its nuclear weapons program. President Trump, along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, announced the sanctions at a United Nations luncheon.
The President said he had authorized the U.S. Department of Treasury to “target any individual or entity that conducts trade in goods, services or technology” with North Korea. The sanctions are also intended to disrupt shipping from North Korea by prohibiting aircraft and vessels that have been to North Korea within 180 days to call at a port or land in the United States.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) recently announced new sanctions on entities and individuals in Iran and Mexico. These sanctions were designated against individuals associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (“the Quds Force”), Iranian entities involved in hacking against American financial institutions in 2011 and 2012, and Mexican businesses and individuals associated with drug trafficking.