Under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the US Secretary of State annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’. Yesterday, it was announced that the US Secretary of State had re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ on 22 December 2017. Pakistan was also placed on a ‘Special Watch List’ for “severe violations of religious freedom”.
Designated governments face potential sanctions under section 405 of the Act, including an order prohibiting US agencies from issuing specific licences to them under various US statutes (e.g. the Export Administration Act of 1979, the Arms Export Control Act, or the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, etc).