US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has published a departure memorandum (link here) commenting on the work of the US Treasury over the previous 8 years. He notes the success of sanctions on Iran, in cutting off terrorist groups from financing, and imposing pressure on Iran & North Korea. “All the while, we have worked to craft a cohesive vision for the use of sanctions, in which sanctions are informed by financial intelligence, strategically designed, and implemented with our public and private partners to focus pressure on bad actors and create clear incentives to end malign behaviour, while limiting collateral impact.” The memo says the US should continue to use sanctions “judiciously” and adapt to changed relationships (eg with Cuba).
He repeats the caution he gave in March last year (see previous blog) that the US should be careful not to overuse sanctions, “particularly our most unilateral tools like secondary sanctions that extend to non-U.S. persons. If we overuse these powerful tools, we risk lessening their impact when they are most needed and ultimately threaten our central role in the global financial system.”