More than 500 British, French and German parliamentarians have signed a letter addressed to their US counterparts urging them to persuade President Trump to uphold US commitment to the JCPOA (see previous blog here on President Trump’s JCPOA speech, 12 January 2018). The letter acknowledges the concerns surrounding Iran’s ‘other non-nuclear’ activities (namely, its ballistic missiles programme and role in Syria), but states that “these issues must be treated separately… and not within the context of the JCPOA”. Furthermore, “if the deal breaks down, it [would be] well-nigh impossible to assemble another grand coalition built around sanctions against Iran. We must preserve what took us a decade to achieve and has proven to be effective.”
Yesterday, OFAC designated Syrian national Nasif Barakat and the Syria-based Barakat Transnational Criminal Organisation (TCO) pursuant to Executive Order 13581 (asset freezes imposed). The Barakat TCO is said to be a “human smuggling organisation… that facilitates the smuggling of Syrian and Lebanese nationals to the United States border”. Mr Barakat was designated for being the organisation’s “leader”. OFAC Notice here, and US Treasury press release here. These are not chemical weapons-related designations.
The EU has added 4 people (Kim Yong Nam, Djang Tcheul Hy, Kim Su Gwang and Kim Kyong Hui) to its DPRK sanctions list for their involvement in “deceptive financial practices which are suspected of contributing to the DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic-missile-related or other weapons of mass destruction-related programmes”. These listings are EU autonomous measures, see: Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/611 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/602. EU press release here.
The UN Security Council has announced that the Libya sanctions listing of the vessel named ‘Nadine’ expired yesterday (previous blog here). As a result, the vessel will no longer be subject to a UN port ban or a prohibition from loading, transporting or discharging petroleum (including crude oil and refined products) from Libya aboard the ship.
Belgian authorities have announced that 3 Flemish companies – AAE Chemie (Belgian chemical group), Anex Customs and Danmar Logistics (2 handling companies) – are being prosecuted for the unlicensed export of chemicals to Syria.
It is alleged that between May 2014 and December 2016, the 3 companies had shipped 24 deliveries to Syria (without an export licence), containing 168 tonnes of isopropanol, 219 tonnes of acetone, 77 tonnes of methanol, and 21 tonnes of dichloromethane. The trial is set to commence in Antwerp on 15 May 2018.
At a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, EU Foreign Ministers did not agree new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile programme and role in Syria, which had been considered to try to ensure that the US continues its commitment to the JCPOA.
The EU failed to agree new measures on Syria over its alleged chemical weapons attacks. Last week the EU issued a press release condemning the “repeated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime”, stating that it had sanctioned a number of Syrian high-level officials and scientists in July 2017 and March 2018 for “their role in the development and use of chemical weapons”, and that it was “always ready to consider imposing further measures as appropriate”.
It is reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz will meet members of the US administration later this month to seek exemptions for German companies from the recent US sanctions on Russia, in which a number of Russian oligarchs, government officials and entities were added to the SDN list (previous blog here). Non-US persons can be liable for knowingly facilitating “significant transactions” for or on behalf of the individuals and entities sanctioned.
In light of the US imposing sanctions on a number of Russian oligarchs, government officials and entities (previous blog), the Russian Parliament was presented last week (13 April) with Draft Bill No. 441399-7 “On Measures (Countermeasures) in Response to Unfriendly Actions of the USA and (or) other Foreign States” (foreign states being those that have followed the decisions of the US on the adoption of Russia-related financial sanctions). The Draft Bill provides for the following measures (inter alia):
1. Prohibition/restriction on the import into Russia of agricultural products, raw materials and food products, alcohol and tobacco products, and some medicinal products, originating from the US and/or other foreign states;
2. Termination/suspension of international cooperation between Russia and the US and/or other foreign states* in the sectors of nuclear power, rocket and propulsion, and aircraft production;
3. Travel bans on US and/or other foreign persons working on the development and implementation of policy and legal actions in respect of the Russian Federation;
4. Prohibition/restriction on US and/or other foreign technological equipment and software for Russian state and municipal needs;
5. Prohibition/restriction on the provision of consulting, audit and legal services by entities under the jurisdiction of the US and/or other foreign states* for Russian state and municipal needs;
6. Prohibition/restriction on the participation in privatisations for US persons and/or persons of other foreign states*;
7. Prohibition/restriction on the provision of services related to the sale of public property owned by Russia by entities under the jurisdiction of the US and/or other foreign states*;
8. Exhaustion of the exclusive right to trademarks owned by US and/or other foreign states* in respect of certain goods;
9. Prohibition/restriction on the employment in Russia of citizens of the US and/or other foreign states, including highly qualified experts; and
10. Prohibition/restriction on the import of any other goods originating from the US and/or other foreign states (relevant list to be drawn up by the Russian Government).
The Russian Parliament is due to consider the Draft Bill on 24 April.
*including entities that are more than 25% directly or indirectly owned by entities under the jurisdiction of the US and/or other foreign states