A Guide to Iran Sanctions

It’s come to my attention as of late that there is quite bit of confusion regarding what Iran sanctions are. Some believe the sanctions are completely statutory as mandated in the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA). Others focus on just the regulatory trade ban found at 31 C.F.R. Part 560, known as the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR). Still there are others who only focus on the blocking of certain Iranian banks under either the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Sanctions Regulations (WMDPSR) and the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR). The truth is that Iran sanctions are all of these things and more.

The sanctions regime targeting Iran is comprised of a variety of statutes, executive orders, and regulations. Some of these provisions call for transactions with Iran to be blocked, others enact prohibitions against dealings with Iran and Iranian entities. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the laws that comprise what we refer to as Iran Sanctions:

1. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA): IEEPA grants the authority to the President to impose sanctions. It is a short act that leaves a lot of discretion up to the Executive Branch on when and how sanctions can be imposed. Under IEEPA, the President can prohibit transactions, block assets, and generally impose a wide array of restrictions on dealings with a target country, entity, or individual.

2. Iran Sanctions Act (ISA): First passed in 1996, ISA calls on the President to impose certain sanctions upon foreign entities contributing more than $40 million of investment to Iran’s petroleum sector or on those parties engaging in trade with Iran in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

3. The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA): Under CISADA, Congress expanded the provisions of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) to include prohibiting investment in Iran’s petroleum production, exporting refined petroleum products to Iran, denial of foreign exchange transactions, imposing prohibitions on transfers of credit or payments between, by, through, or to financial institutions that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and denial of any transaction with respect to property subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

4. Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA): TSRA calls for the licensing of exports of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices to Iran, Cuba, and Sudan.

5. The Iranian Assets Control Regulations: The Iranian Assets Control Regulations are the first sanctions to be imposed in relation to Iran. They were imposed during the Carter Administration and froze assets belonging to the Government of Iran that were under U.S. jurisdiction.

6. The Iranian Transactions Regulations: The Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR) are what we commonly think of when we hear the term “Iran sanctions”. The ITR constitutes an expansive trade ban targeting Iran, the Government of Iran, and Iranian entities. In short, the ITR prohibits U.S. persons from carrying out any import or transaction related to Iranian-origin goods or services, any export to Iran of any U.S.-origin goods, services, or technology, and/or the facilitation of any of the aforementioned activities.

7. The Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations: One of the new sanctions programs mandated by CISADA, the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations imposed prohibitions with respect to correspondent accounts or payable-through accounts of certain foreign financial institutions, as well as on persons owned or controlled by U.S. financial institutions.

8. The Iranian Human Rights Abuses Sanctions Regulations: Another of the new sanctions programs mandated by CISADA, the Iranian Human Rights Abuses Sanctions Regulations identified for blocking of assets any persons contributing to human rights abuses in Iran. It also prohibited U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with such targeted parties.

9. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1696: A 2006 U.N. Security Council Resolution which gave Iran one month (to the end of August 2006) to halt its enrichment of uranium and all other “research and development” activities or face the threat of sanctions.

10: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747: A 2007 United Nations Security Council Resolution which called upon states and international financial institutions to refrain from entering into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition, it imposed an arms ban on export of Iranian arms and related material.

11: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929: The latest round of U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran. Among the many provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, this resolution imposed bans on certain Iranian nuclear and missile development abroad, on arms sales, bunkering services, financial services contributing to Iran’s proliferation efforts. In addition, it called for the blocking of all transactions related to Iran’s proliferation efforts.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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