Iran imposes reciprocal sanctions on 9 US firms

Iran has imposed sanctions on 9 more US people and companies, allowing the government of Iran to freeze their assets and bar their employees from entering the country.  The new listings follow the US government’s decision to impose new sanctions listings on Iran relating to its ballistic missile programme earlier this month (see previous blog).

The newly sanctioned firms are shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, cybersecurity firm Kingfisher Systems, military contractor DynCorp, management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, which works closely with the US government, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, and the BIRD and BSF foundations, which are said to have supported cooperation between Israeli and American companies.  Also sanctioned are the CEOs of Booz Allen Hamilton and KingFisher Systems, Horacio Rozanski and Roy Reed.

US sanctions 8 judges on Venezuela’s Supreme Court

The US has sanctioned the President of Venezuela’s Supreme Court and 7 of its other judges. U.S. officials said the sanctions were a response to an incident in March in which the Supreme Court annulled Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly, which is controlled by Venezuela’s opposition party.

The sanctions freeze their assets, and prohibit US persons from doing business with them.  In the US Treasury’s press release, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “the United States is supporting the Venezuelan people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country”.  The details of the listings are here.

US renews JCPOA sanctions relief & adds to ballistic missile sanctions

The US has renewed the sanctions relief on Iran that it agreed to under the JCPOA nuclear deal, which must be renewed every 4-6 months.

It has also imposed new sanctions designations on 2 senior Iranian defence officials, one of whom is said to have facilitated the sale of explosives to Syria, 1 person and 3 entities allegedly involved in a China-based network supporting Iran’s military and ballistic missile programme, and an Iran-based firm supporting SHIG, a designated organisation involved in Iran’s liquid-fuel ballistic missile programme. The details of the new designations are here.

US additions to Syria sanctions list

The US has sanctioned 5 people and 5 entities based in Syria for their connections with the Syrian government.  Among the new designations are a cousin of President Assad and people associated with the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, the Syrian government agency said to be responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons. A list of the new designations is here.

OFAC designates financial supporters of several terrorist groups

OFAC has sanctioned 3 people and 1 entity, all based in Pakistan, said to be involved in leading or financially supporting the terrorist organisations Jama’at ul Dawa al-Qu’ran, the Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIL.  They are Hayat Muhammad, Ali Turab, Inayat Rahman, and the Welfare and Development Organisation of Jamaat-Ud-Dawah for Qur’an and Sunnah.

In its press release, the US Treasury said that the individuals are “opportunistic and willing to work with extremist organisations, even those ideologically opposed to one another, to help them deepen their foothold in the region”.

US House of Representations approves new sanctions on N Korea

The US House of Representatives has approved new sanctions on North Korea, by a majority of 419 to 1.  The sanctions would prohibit ships and aircraft from using US ports if their port of origin has failed to comply with UN rules on shipments involving North Korea. They would also embargo all goods produced by North Koreans unless US authorities conclude that there was no slave labour involved in their production, and the US Department of State would also be charged with determining whether any non-US firms employing North Koreans should be made subject to sanctions for human trafficking.  In order for the new sanctions to become law, they must be passed by the Senate and signed by President Trump.

US renews Belarus general licence

The US Treasury has renewed its general licence (which authorises transactions with all entities listed on its Belarus sanctions) for 6 months, until 30 October 2017.  The renewal was made by Belarus General Licence 2C, which replaces and supersedes General Licence 2B under which the authorisation was previously granted. The EU lifted most of its sanctions on Belarus in February 2016 (see previous blog).

The General Licence requires any US person to report any such transactions, or series of transactions, in excess of $50,000 to the US Department of State no later than 30 days after their execution.  No new property has been unblocked by General Licence 2C.

US to adopt sanctions and diplomacy-based strategy on North Korea

The Trump administration has announced that its strategy on North Korea will be to increase sanctions and diplomatic pressure until North Korea ends its nuclear and missile programmes.  The announcement came after Trump briefed all 100 US senators, who said that no specific military option was presented to them.  The South Korean president’s office also released a statement saying that South Korea and the US had agreed “to swiftly take punitive measures, including a new UN Security Council resolution, that are unbearable for the North” if North Korea continues to breach international law.