US Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement the Countering Iran’s Destabilising Activities Bill that allows new US sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.
We reported in June that the US Senate had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill, that it had been held up in the House of Representatives, and that the Senate had been sent a revised version. The new agreed version adds North Korea sanctions to the package. It requires the President to submit to Congress a report on proposed actions that would “significantly alter” US foreign policy in connection with Russia, including easing sanctions. Congress would have at least 30 days to hold hearings and then vote to uphold or reject the President’s proposed changes. The House will vote on the Bill on Tuesday this week.
The EU has amended the entries for 3 entities subject to its sanctions on DPRK, namely Namchongang Trading Corporation, Green Pine Associated Corporation, and Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army. It has also deleted the entries for Pak To-Chun, Paek Se-bong, and Strategic Rocket forces from its annexes containing autonomous EU listings, because they are now listed by the UN since June (see previous blog).
See Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/1330 amending Council Regulation 329/2007 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1339 amending Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/849. The UK’s notice is here.
As foreshadowed earlier this week here, the EU has introduced new restrictions on exports to Libya, relating to certain goods which may be used for human smuggling and trafficking. The list of goods is in Annex VII of Regulation 2016/44 as amended. The EU has also continued its sanctions against all currently listed persons (see notice here). Regulation 2017/1325 amending Regulation 2016/44 and Decision 2017/1338 amending Decision 2015/1333.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The EU has implemented UN amendments to the listing criteria for sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo to include people involved in planning, sponsoring, or participating in attacks against members of the UN Group of Experts. Regulation 2017/1326 amending Regulation 1183/2005 and Decision 2017/1340 amending Decision 2010/788/CFSP.
The USA yesterday designated 14 people and entities for supporting “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity”. The new listings target Iran’s military, Revolutionary Guard Corps, and ballistic missile programme; 3 networks are said to have provided support through the development of unmanned aerial vehicles and military equipment, the production and maintenance of fast attack boats, or the procurement of electronic components.
The US has also designated Iran-based Ajily Software Procurement Group as a Transnational Criminal Organisation, along with 3 connected people, for stealing engineering software programmes from the US and other Western countries, some of which it sold to the Iranian military and government.
Details of all the new listings are here, and the State Department’s statement is here. On Monday the US administration certified that Iran was complying with its obligations under the JCPOA nuclear deal. However, it has been highly critical of Iran’s continued development of ballistic missiles and some of its activities in the Middle East, and promised new sanctions to “hold Iran accountable”. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said it will reciprocate by sanctioning US persons (link to statement here).
We reported in January 2016 (here) that the EU Court had annulled the designations of Mykola Azarov and Sergej Arbuzov, both former Prime Ministers of Ukraine, because the only basis for saying that they were “responsible for misappropriating Ukrainian state funds” was a letter in March 2014 from Ukraine’s Prosecutor General that gave no details of the matters alleged against them and the nature of their alleged responsibility for misappropriation of assets.
The EU Court has now upheld their re-listings on the basis that there was sufficient evidence that they are “subject to criminal proceedings by the Ukrainian authorities for the misappropriation of public funds or assets”. Judgments here; Cases T-221/15 Arbuzov and T-215/15 Azarov. The General Court rejected grounds for annulment based on insufficient reasons, rights of defence, misuse of powers, and disproportionate breach of fundamental rights. It held that the EU Council has to check that the listed person is facing criminal proceedings for misappropriation of state funds in Ukraine, but it does not have to question the evidence underlying those proceedings or the procedure (particularly since Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe & ECHR) and it is up to the EU to decide it if needs additional evidence or clarification.
There is a debate today in the main chamber of the House of Commons on ‘exiting the EU and sanctions’ starting after Prime Ministers Questions at 12pm. Debate pack of background material and details are here. You can watch live on Parliament TV, link here.
In its conclusions on the situation in Libya (link here), the EU Council has reaffirmed its commitment to existing sanctions on Libya and its readiness to lift them if the situation in Libya improves or introduce new measures if necessary. The EU says it is ready to act against those responsible for serious human rights abuses in Libya, and is looking into extending sanctions to cover migrant smugglers and traffickers. It condemned repeated violations of the UN arms embargo, and urged all members of the international community to respect the UN Security Council resolutions on Libya.
The US has extended the deadline for deciding whether to revoke its sanctions on Sudan for 3 months. They were due to expire on 12 July, if not prevented by the White House. The Obama Administration eased US sanctions on Sudan in January, in recognition of Sudan’s improved cooperation with the US including on counter-terrorism, improvements to humanitarian access, and the reduction in its military activity in conflict areas such as Darfur (see previous blog). The full lifting of the sanctions is contingent on Sudan continuing to address these areas, but the current administration decided that it needed more time to “ensure that, given the scope and gravity of this decision, we reached the proper outcome”.
Senior administration officials gave a press briefing on US sanctions on Sudan on Wednesday (link here).
Siemens has brought proceedings in the Moscow Arbitration Court against Russian Technopromexport (a subsidiary of Rostec) for exporting Siemens-built power turbines to Crimea in apparent violation of EU sanctions and a written agreement between the companies not to do so. EU sanctions prohibit (inter alia) companies from exporting goods and technology for use in the energy sector to Crimea.