There were announcements last weekend that the US would impose further sanctions this week on Russians said to have assisted Syria with chemical weapons (see eg 15 April 2018 statement by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley). However, yesterday (16 April) the White House press briefing said new measures were currently being evaluated, but that there was “nothing to announce right now” and reports suggest that President Trump has told national security advisers that he is uncomfortable imposing the planned new sanctions without another “triggering event” by Russia.
The House of Commons Defence Committee has published a report: Rash or Rational? North Korea and the threat it poses which analyses sanctions adopted in response to North Korea’s nuclear programme.
The report states that North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing began in 2006, and that UN sanctions have been imposed in 9 increasingly severe UNSC resolutions (the latest being in December 2017, see here). Countries “traditionally supportive” of North Korea, such as China and Russia had approved all 9 resolutions, and some imposed additional measures (including the US and the EU). The report concludes that the “inadequate enforcement of sanctions” and “lax enforcement on the part of certain countries”, has “significantly limited their impact on North Korea’s economy”. It recommends that the FCO should “set out what steps it has taken to encourage other countries to enforce – in full – the agreed sanctions against North Korea”.
The UK’s Export Control Joint Unit has announced that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has recently fined a UK exporter £109,312.50 for unlicensed exports of military goods controlled by the Export Control Order 2008. No further details were provided.
The EU has amended the statements of reasons relating to 2 people on its Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) sanctions list: Alex Kande Mupompa (‘Former Governor of Kasai Central’) and Lambert Mende (‘Minister of Communications and Media’). See Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/569 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/566.
The UN Security Council held a meeting yesterday on the current situation in Mali, in which French UN ambassador Francois Delattre said (inter alia) that France would be identifying a number of people for UN sanctions (travel ban and/or asset freeze) who have violated or obstructed Mali’s 2015 peace agreement (specifically those that have colluded with terrorist groups and trafficking networks). To date, no individuals have been designated under the UN’s Mali sanctions regime, which was established in September 2017. UN press release here.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has announced that draft measures are currently being prepared to align sanctions “as much as possible” with the recent US decision to designate a number of Russian oligarchs, government officials and entities (asset freezes and travels bans imposed) (previous blog here).
President Poroshenko has also announced that “to change the behaviour of Russia, it is necessary to ensure the maximum effect on sanctions”, which “is only possible if the European Union follows the example of the United States and the whole world synchronizes sanctions with them, especially in the financial sphere”.
The EU has extended until 13 April 2019 its Iran human rights sanctions (30 listings also updated), see Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/568 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/565. Those measures currently impose travel bans and asset freezes against 82 individuals and 1 entity (‘Cyber Police’), as well as a ban on exports to Iran of equipment which might be used for internal repression and of equipment for monitoring telecommunications. EU press release here, and UK OFSI Notice here.
On the subject of the JCPOA, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated yesterday that the US might impose “very strong” sanctions on Iran in the event that the “disastrous flaws” of the nuclear agreement (as referred to by President Trump) are not addressed before the 12 May deadline. He said that the US administration were considering both a fresh round of sanctions, as well as the return of previous sanctions that had been waived as part of the JCPOA.
Advocate General Tanchev (the Bulgarian AG in the EU Court of Justice) has given his opinion in the National Iranian Tanker Company’s (NITC) re-listing appeal, Case C-600/16 P (see previous blog here on the General Court judgment under appeal). Link to Opinion here, which does not bind the Court of Justice; the Court will give judgment in the next few months. Maya Lester QC (inter alia) acts for the NITC.
The NITC had argued that its right to an effective remedy (and other principles of EU law) was breached because it had been re-listed on the EU’s Iran sanctions having had its original listing annulled, without there being any change of fact; the only change was that the EU Council had said NITC should be re-listed because the form of support it was said to be providing to the Iranian Government as a tanker company was “logistical” rather than (as before) “financial”.
The Opinion contains an interesting analysis of the right to an effective remedy under the EU Charter and ECHR. The AG’s view is that that principle curtails the EU’s discretion to adopt measures that re-list after an error identified in an EU judgment, and that damages wouldn’t provide a remedy in those circumstances because there wouldn’t be a sufficiently serious breach of EU law. However, in his view, NITC’s right to an effective remedy had not been breached on the facts because logistical support was different from providing financial support to the Government of Iran, so the Council was not re-litigating the same point. He also said that there was no evidence that the Council had held back arguments at the time of first listing for use in re-listing (so-called “warehousing”) – this raises interesting issues about the circumstances in which there could be such evidence available to the applicant and the consequences.