State Department Updates

The Secretary of State is publicly designating Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, former Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army’s Presidential Guard Brigade and current Ambassador Designate of Zimbabwe to Tanzania, under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act (Div. F, P.L. 116-6), due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights.  Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.  The Department has credible information that Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe was involved in the violent crackdown against unarmed Zimbabweans during post-election protests on August 1, 2018 that resulted in six civilian deaths.

The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and immediate family members.  In addition to the designation of Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, the Department is also publicly designating his spouse, Chido Machona.

To date, the Government of Zimbabwe has held no member of the security forces accountable for the acts of violence committed against Zimbabweans on August 1, 2018.  Furthermore, there has been no accountability for the excessive use of force by Zimbabwean security forces on civilians in January and February this year, which reportedly resulted in at least 13 deaths, 600 victims of violence, torture or rape, and more than 1,000 arrests.  We again call on Zimbabwean authorities to hold accountable those officials responsible for human rights violations and abuses in Zimbabwe.

Link:

State Department Press Release

The Trump administration has implemented an unprecedented pressure campaign on Iran’s leaders with two objectives: First, to deprive the Iranian regime of the money it needs to support its destabilizing activities. Second, to force the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the negotiating table to conclude a comprehensive and enduring deal.

The comprehensive deal we seek with the Iranian regime should address four key areas: its nuclear program, its ballistic missile development and proliferation, its support for terrorist groups and proxies, and its treatment and illegal detention of U.S. citizens.

Before we reimposed sanctions and accelerated our pressure campaign, Iran was increasing its malign activity, even under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. These actions included expansive missile testing and proliferation, continuing to unjustly detain American citizens, and deepening its involvement in regional conflicts.

In Yemen, Iran has provided funding, weapons and training to the Houthis, only prolonging the conflict and suffering of the Yemeni people. In Syria, Iran supports a regime that has killed hundreds of thousands, has displaced millions of its own citizens, and continues to spread violence throughout the country. In Lebanon, Iran uses Hezbollah to provoke conflict with Lebanon’s neighbors, imperil the Lebanese people and generate instability.

U.S. pressure is reversing these trends. The regime and its proxies are weaker than when our pressure began. Iranian-backed militias have stated that Iran no longer has enough money to pay them as much as in the past and has enacted austerity plans. Iran’s proposed military budget for 2019 included a 28% cut to its defense budget and a 17% cut to its terror branch, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

As we raise the cost of Iran’s expansionism and the status quo, we seek a comprehensive deal and a far more peaceful, stable relationship. We look forward to the day we can help bring the Iranian people and their neighbors the peace and prosperity they deserve.

Link:

State Department Op-Ed

On August 5, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order blocking all property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within possession or control of any United States person. This Executive Order is designed to directly target the former Maduro regime and those who support it, while exempting transactions related to humanitarian activity, including the provision of articles such as food, clothing, and medicine intended to be used to relieve human suffering. OFAC has concurrently issued a general license authorizing transactions with Interim President Juan Guaido, the National Assembly, and individuals appointed or designated by Guaido.

While this is not an embargo, this significant action is in response to the continuing usurpation of power by Maduro and persons affiliated with him from the legitimate interim government of Interim President Guaido, as well as human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, interference with freedom of expression, including for members of the media, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Guaido and the democratically elected National Assembly’s exercise of legitimate authority in Venezuela.

Maduro’s repression of Venezuelans, in combination with the corruption and mismanagement by his illegitimate government, has dramatically negatively impacted the quality of life for average citizens who lack access to food, water, medicine and electricity, causing one of the worst man-made humanitarian disasters in the modern world.

Together, with our democratic partners in the region and around the world, the United States stands with Interim President Guaido, the democratically elected National Assembly, and the people of Venezuela as they seek to restore constitutional order and democracy to their country.

Link:

State Department Press Release

Issuance of CBW Act-related Executive Order; Publication of CBW Act Directive and Frequently Asked Questions

On August 1, 2019, the President issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) “Administration of Proliferation Sanctions and Amendment of Executive Order 12851” , this E.O. is related to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, as amended (“CBW Act”).  Pursuant to the CBW Act, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing a Russia-related Directive (CBW Act Directive).  The CBW Act Directive will have an effective date of August 26, 2019.  OFAC is also publishing new FAQs relating to the CBW Act Directive.

From the Executive Order:

Section 1. (a) When the President, or the Secretary of State pursuant to authority delegated by the President and in accordance with the terms of such delegation, pursuant to section 307(b)(1) of the CBW Act, selects for imposition on a country one or more of the sanctions set forth below and in section 307(b)(2) of that Act, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall take the following actions, when necessary, to implement such sanctions:

(i) oppose, in accordance with section 701 of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262d), the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to that country by international financial institutions; and

(ii) prohibit any United States bank from making any

loan or providing any credit to the government of that country, except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.

Here is the Directive:

RUSSIA-RELATED DIRECTIVE UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER OF AUGUST 1, 2019 (“CBW Act Directive”)

Pursuant to sections 1(a)(ii), 1(b), and 5 of Executive Order of August 1, 2019 “Administration of Proliferation Sanctions and Amendment of Executive Order 12851” (the “Order”) and 31 C.F.R. § 544.802, and following the Secretary of State’s selection of the sanction related to bank loans pursuant to delegated authority under section 307(b) of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, as amended (22 U.S.C. § 5605(b)), the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control has determined, in consultation with the Department of State, that the following activities by a U.S. bank, as defined below, including foreign branches, are prohibited, except to the extent provided by law or unless licensed or otherwise authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control: (1) participation in the primary market for non-ruble denominated bonds issued by the Russian sovereign, as defined below, after August 26, 2019; and (2) lending non-ruble denominated funds to the Russian sovereign, as defined below, after August 26, 2019.

For purposes of this Directive, the term “U.S. bank” means, consistent with the Order and 31 C.F.R. § 544.311, any entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including its foreign branches), or any entity in the United States, that is engaged in the business of accepting deposits, making, granting, transferring, holding, or brokering loans or credits, or purchasing or selling foreign exchange, securities, commodity futures, or options, or procuring purchasers and sellers thereof, as principal or agent.

“U.S. bank” includes but is not limited to depository institutions, banks, savings banks, trust

companies, securities brokers and dealers, commodity futures and options brokers and dealers,

The term

forward contract and foreign exchange merchants, securities and commodities exchanges,

clearing corporations, investment companies, employee benefit plans, and U.S. holding

companies, U.S. affiliates, or U.S. subsidiaries of any of the foregoing. This term includes those

branches, offices and agencies of foreign financial institutions that are located in the United

States and otherwise meet the definition of “U.S. bank” used in this Directive, but not such

institutions’ foreign branches, offices, or agencies.

Furthermore, for purposes of this Directive, the term “Russian sovereign” means any ministry, agency, or sovereign fund of the Russian Federation, including the Central Bank of Russia, the National Wealth Fund, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. This term does not include state-owned enterprises of the Russian Federation.

Except to the extent otherwise provided by law or unless licensed or otherwise authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the following are also prohibited: (1) any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions contained in this Directive; and (2) any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions in this Directive.

August 2, 2019

Here are the new FAQs:

673. What is the purpose of the Executive Order of August 1, 2019, “Administration of Proliferation Sanctions and Amendment of Executive Order 12851.”  

 

The Executive order (E.O.) of August 1, 2019 delegates to the Secretary of the Treasury the implementation of the sanctions related to multilateral development bank assistance and to United States bank loans that are contained in the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, as amended (“CBW Act”). 22 U.S.C. §5605(b)(2)(A)-(B). The E.O. also provides authority pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to the Secretary of the Treasury to take certain actions to implement the sanction related to bank loans. [08-03-2019]


674. What action is the U.S. government taking under the CBW Act?

 

Following the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury, United Kingdom, the Department of State, acting under the CBW Act pursuant to authority delegated to the Secretary of State, made a determination on August 6, 2018 that the Government of the Russian Federation had used chemical weapons in violation of international law or had used lethal chemical weapons against its own nationals. Effective as of August 27, 2018, the United States imposed a first round of sanctions against Russia. On November 6, 2018, the Department of State determined that the Government of the Russian Federation had failed to meet the conditions described in the CBW Act to avoid the imposition of a second round of sanctions, including failing to provide reliable assurances that it would not engage in future chemical weapons attacks. On August 2, 2019, the Department of State selected three additional sanctions to impose on Russia pursuant to the CBW Act, specifically, the sanctions related to U.S. bank loans, opposition to multilateral development bank assistance, and further export restrictions administered by the Department of Commerce. [08-03-2019]


675. How is OFAC implementing sanctions related to U.S. bank loans imposed on Russia pursuant to the CBW Act?

 

Pursuant to E.O. of August 1, 2019, 31 C.F.R. § 544.802, and the CBW Act, OFAC issued a Russia-Related Directive under E.O. of August 2, 2019, (the “CBW Act Directive”) , which prohibits U.S. banks from participating in the primary market for non-ruble denominated bonds issued by the Russian sovereign and also prohibits U.S. banks from lending non-ruble denominated funds to the Russian sovereign. These prohibitions do not apply to bonds or loans denominated in rubles. This prohibition only applies to “U.S. banks,” as that term is defined in the CBW Act Directive and consistent with section 4(c) of E.O. of August 1, 2019 and consistent with the definition of U.S. financial institution at 31 C.F.R. § 544.311. The CBW Act Directive includes a definition of the term “Russian sovereign.” The CBW Act Directive is effective as of August 26, 2019. [08-03-2019]


676. What do the CBW Act Directive terms “U.S. bank” and “Russian sovereign” mean?

The CBW Act Directive  defines the term “U.S. banks.” This definition is consistent with section 4(c) of E.O. of August 1, 2019, and with the definition of U.S. financial institution at 31 C.F.R. § 544.311. The CBW Act Directive defines the term “Russian sovereign” as any ministry, agency, or sovereign fund of the Russian Federation, including the Central Bank of Russia, the National Wealth Fund, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. This term does not include state-owned enterprises of the Russian Federation. [08-03-2019]


677. How does OFAC’s CBW Act Directive impose costs on the Government of the Russian Federation?  

 

The CBW Act Directive imposes long-term costs on Russia for its brazen use of chemical weapons and its failure to meet the conditions described in the CBW Act, including the failure to provide reliable assurances that Russia would not engage in future chemical weapons attacks. The Government of the Russian Federation cannot leverage U.S. banks for future non-ruble denominated sovereign bond offerings or benefit from non-ruble denominated loans provided by U.S. banks. [08-03-2019]


678. Does the CBW Act Directive prohibit participation in the secondary market for Russian sovereign debt?

 

No, the CBW Act Directive does not prohibit U.S. banks from participating in the secondary market for Russian sovereign debt. [08-03-2019]

And Treasury issued a press release:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Announces Sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act 

Washington– The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced today that it is implementing two sanctions on the Russian Federation as part of measures imposed by the U.S. government pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, as amended (“CBW Act”), in response to Russia’s use of the “Novichok” nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom (UK) in March 2018.  This action follows the Department of State’s determination that the Government of the Russian Federation failed to comply with the conditions described in the CBW Act.  Treasury is imposing a prohibition related to certain U.S. bank loans and will oppose multilateral development bank assistance to the Russian Federation.  

To implement the sanction related to U.S. bank loans, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing a Russia-related Directive (the “CBW Act Directive”) under the Executive Order (E.O.) of August 1, 2019.  The CBW Act Directive prohibits U.S. banks from participating in the primary market for non-ruble denominated bonds issued by the Russian sovereign and also prohibits U.S. banks from lending non-ruble denominated funds to the Russian sovereign.  The CBW Act Directive will become effective on August 26, 2019, following a Congressional notification period required by the CBW Act.  OFAC is publishing a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to provide guidance to the public on the CBW Act Directive. 

Treasury will also ensure that the U.S. Government’s existing policy of opposing multilateral development bank assistance to the Russian Federation remains permanently in place until Russia complies with the requirements of the CBW Act.

Mr. Watchlist notes that nothing in the Executive Order (or the Press Release) notes the enhanced licensing requirements for controlled goods exports to Russia that was mentioned in the State Department press release. Although the licensing changes would be issued by Commerce, not Treasury, I wonder if issuing the Executive Order is a way to bypass the CBW Act’s actual requirements, which require the imposition of 3 of 6 possible sanctions (only 2 of which are mentioned in the Executive Order).

Links:

OFAC Notice

CBW Act Executive Order

Russia-related Directive

New FAQs

Treasury Press Release

Today, pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act), the United States is announcing a second round of sanctions on Russia for its use of a “novichok” nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom on March 4, 2018.  This act endangered thousands of lives in Salisbury and Amesbury, and caused the hospitalization of the Skripals, a British police officer, and two civilians, one of whom subsequently died from her exposure.

This second round will include:

  1. U.S. opposition to the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to Russia by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank or International Monetary Fund;

  2. A prohibition on U.S. banks from participating in the primary market for non-ruble denominated Russian sovereign debt and lending non-ruble denominated funds to the Russian government; and

  3. The addition of export licensing restrictions on Department of Commerce-controlled goods and technology.

As with the first round of sanctions, these measures will take effect following a 15-day Congressional notification period and thereafter remain in place for a minimum of 12 months.

It does not appear that the Trump Administration properly applied the sanctions. The CBW Act lists the following options for the second round of sanctions (3 must be chosen):















(A) MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANK ASSISTANCE- The United States Government shall oppose, in accordance with section 701 of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262d), the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to that country by international financial institutions.


 


(B) BANK LOANS- The United States Government shall prohibit any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit to the government of that country, except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.


 


(C) FURTHER EXPORT RESTRICTIONS- The authorities of section 6 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 shall be used to prohibit exports to that country of all other goods and technology (excluding food and other agricultural commodities and products).


 


(D) IMPORT RESTRICTIONS- Restrictions shall be imposed on the importation into the United States of articles (which may include petroleum or any petroleum product) that are the growth, product, or manufacture of that country.


 


(E) DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS- The President shall use his constitutional authorities to downgrade or suspend diplomatic relations between the United States and the government of that country.


 


(F) LANDING RIGHTS- At the earliest practicable date, the United States Government shall terminate, consistent with international law, the authority of any air carrier which is controlled in fact by the government of that country to engage in air transportation (as defined in section 101(10) of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (49 U.S.C. App. 1301(10))).




While it is clear that the Trump Administration chose Options A and B, adding export licensing restrictions for controlled goods is not Option C (would US firms really export dual-use goods to a global adversary like Russia?). Clearly they are doing the absolute minimum to get Congress for passing legislation to address the situation.

Oh, and Treasury issued a press release, too:

Treasury Announces Sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act 

Washington– The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced today that it is implementing two sanctions on the Russian Federation as part of measures imposed by the U.S. government pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, as amended (“CBW Act”), in response to Russia’s use of the “Novichok” nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom (UK) in March 2018.  This action follows the Department of State’s determination that the Government of the Russian Federation failed to comply with the conditions described in the CBW Act.  Treasury is imposing a prohibition related to certain U.S. bank loans and will oppose multilateral development bank assistance to the Russian Federation.  

To implement the sanction related to U.S. bank loans, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing a Russia-related Directive (the “CBW Act Directive”) under the Executive Order (E.O.) of August 1, 2019.  The CBW Act Directive prohibits U.S. banks from participating in the primary market for non-ruble denominated bonds issued by the Russian sovereign and also prohibits U.S. banks from lending non-ruble denominated funds to the Russian sovereign.  The CBW Act Directive will become effective on August 26, 2019, following a Congressional notification period required by the CBW Act.  OFAC is publishing a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to provide guidance to the public on the CBW Act Directive. 

Treasury will also ensure that the U.S. Government’s existing policy of opposing multilateral development bank assistance to the Russian Federation remains permanently in place until Russia complies with the requirements of the CBW Act.

View the CBW Act Directive, FAQs, and information on today’s action.

Links:

State Department Press Release

CBW Act

Treasury Department Press Release

The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.  We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the February and March 2019 elections and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.  As Nigeria marks the twentieth anniversary of a return to democratic rule this year, we remain committed to working together to continue to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.  We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process.

In a January 24 statement, the U.S. government said that we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organizing election-related violence.  To that end, the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.  These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.

The Department of State emphasizes that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government. This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.

Link:

State Department Press Release

Today, the Department of State is publicly designating the following individuals and their immediate family members for the named individuals’ responsibility for gross human rights violations, including in extrajudicial killings in northern Rakhine State, Burma, during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya:

  • Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing

  • Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win

  • Brigadier General Than Oo

  • Brigadier General Aung Aung

These designations are made under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act. Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where there is credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.  The law also requires me to publicly or privately designate such officials and their family members.

The Department of State is focused on policies that will change behavior and promote accountability.  We believe this action is one step toward achieving these goals.

With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military.  We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.

We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country.

One egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership was the recent disclosure that Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of the soldiers convicted of the extrajudicial killings at Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya.  The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days.

Link:

State Department Press Release

State Department Background Call