U.S. Designates Additional SDNs Under its Iranian Sanctions Regime

July 20, 2017

On Tuesday, July 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of 16 entities and individuals for “engaging in support of illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity.” Additionally, the U.S. State Department designated two entities “involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program.” These designations were made pursuant to preexisting executive orders and there is no “new” sanctions law with respect to Iran. The designated entities and individuals have been added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (“OFAC”) Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN”) List. As such, all property and interests in property of those designated are blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. OFAC maintains a Sanctions List Search, which can be checked to see if a particular entity or individual has been designated.

Also on Tuesday, President Donald Trump certified to Congress that Iran remains in compliance with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). Hence, although the additional designations have been described in the media as newly imposed sanctions, there have not been any changes to the U.S. sanctions regime with respect to Iran.

As explained in our memorandum  dated January 19, 2016, the U.S. joined the European Union (“EU”) and United Nations (“UN”) in lifting1 a number of their nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, including so-called “secondary sanctions,” and sanctions on foreign subsidiaries of U.S. persons. The JCPOA, as the Iran deal is known, includes a “snap back” provision, which provides that if Iran violates the agreement, the sanctions that have been suspended or lifted will be re-implemented. Although President Trump has publicly criticized the JCPOA and OFAC has added individuals and entities to the SDN List, President Trump has not taken any steps towards reimplementation of suspended sanctions or imposed new ones to date. Nevertheless, it is important for both U.S. persons and foreign corporations doing business with Iran to consider the implications of these events occurring.

We will continue to monitor all developments in this area.

If you have any questions or concerns about U.S. sanctions against Iran, please contact one of the attorneys listed below.


1 The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control uses the word “lifted” in the guidance it has issued, but the U.S. sanctions prohibiting certain conduct that is now permitted under the JCPOA have not actually been repealed or permanently terminated at this time as the word suggests. Rather, the U.S. government has implemented changes to the sanctions regime by: (1) issuing waivers of certain statutory sanctions provisions; (2) committing to refrain from exercising certain discretionary sanctions authorities; (3) removing certain individuals and entities from OFAC’s sanctions lists; and (4) revoking certain Executive Orders and specified sections of Executive Orders.


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