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Stephen Rademaker

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June 18, 2024, Covington Alert

On June 12, 2024, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) issued additional measures to counter Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine. The measures, announced in advance of the G7 summit in Italy last week, are intended to “continue to drive up costs for the Russian war machine.”

The actions taken by OFAC and BIS include new prohibitions on providing certain information technology- and software-related services to persons located in Russia, establishing additional sanctions designed to target the Russian financial infrastructure, strengthening secondary sanctions that can be applied to non-U.S. persons (including in particular non-U.S. financial institutions), and expanding export controls restrictions on items destined for Russia and Belarus (including with respect to certain types of software). Along with the new rules, OFAC designated for property-blocking sanctions more than 300 individuals and entities (including parties identified for sanctions by the U.S. State Department), while BIS used its authority to make additions to the Entity List, issue Temporary Denial Orders, and notify U.S. distributors of additional restrictions on shipments to parties known to be supplying items to Russia. Significantly, BIS altered its Entity List rules to permit certain address-only designations to the Entity List and, among other designations, added to the Entity List eight addresses in Hong Kong with a high diversion risk. Exports, reexports, or transfers of certain items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) to purchasers, intermediate or ultimate consignees, and end ­users who use those addresses generally will require authorization from BIS.

Separately, on June 13, 2024, the UK Government imposed a new round of asset-freezing sanctions on a number of notable Russian entities. The European Union is also considering a 14th package of sanctions measures relating to Russia, although as of this writing the EU has not yet enacted the new package.

New U.S. Sanctions

Prohibition on Certain Information Technology and Software Services

As part of the joint actions, OFAC issued a determination pursuant to the authority of Executive Order 14071 (the “IT and Software Services Determination”) that prohibits the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a U.S. person, wherever located, of (i) information technology (“IT”) consultancy and design services, and (ii) IT support services and cloud-based services for enterprise management software and design and manufacturing software (collectively, “Covered Software”) to any person located in the Russian Federation, unless licensed or otherwise authorized by OFAC. The IT and Software Services Determination is effective beginning at 12:01 eastern daylight time on September 12, 2024. “U.S. persons” include U.S. legal entities and their non-U.S. branches; U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, no matter where located or employed; and persons present in the United States.Continue Reading U.S. Government Issues New U.S. Sanctions and Export Controls Targeting Russia and Belarus for Continued Aggression Against Ukraine; Update on European Sanctions Developments

Earlier this month the Biden Administration released its long-anticipated Executive Order on Addressing United States Investments in Certain National Security Technologies and Products in Countries of Concern (“EO”), which imposes (1) prohibitions on certain outbound investments in the semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence sectors, and (2) mandatory notification requirements for a

In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has further expanded the scope of sanctions targeting Russia in response to its ongoing invasion of Ukraine and its purported annexation of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. The U.S. Department of Commerce also has expanded export controls against Russia and Belarus. These measures are in addition to the new EU and UK sanctions and export controls announced last week and covered in our October 10 client alert.

On September 30, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued guidance that the United States is prepared to more aggressively use its existing authorities to impose sanctions against persons who provide material support to or for sanctioned persons or sanctionable activity, with a particular emphasis on entities and individuals in jurisdictions outside of Russia that provide political or economic support for Russia’s purported annexation of Ukrainian territory. This guidance was accompanied by a series of new designations to OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN List”), including a Chinese firm and an Armenian firm that were designated for having provided material support to a Russian firm that specializes in procuring foreign items for Russia’s defense industry.

On September 15, OFAC issued two new determinations: a determination pursuant to Executive Order (“E.O.”) 14024 and a determination pursuant to E.O. 14071. The first authorizes the imposition of property-blocking sanctions against persons determined to operate in, or to have operated in, the quantum computing sector of the Russian economy. The second prohibits U.S. persons, with limited exceptions, from providing quantum computing services to any person located in Russia.

On September 9, OFAC issued preliminary guidance concerning a ban on a broad range of services related to the maritime transportation of Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products (collectively “seaborne Russian oil”). The ban will take effect on December 5, 2022 with respect to maritime transportation of Russian crude oil and on February 5, 2023 with respect to maritime transportation of Russian petroleum products. The ban will include an exception for the receipt of services by jurisdictions or actors that purchase seaborne Russian oil at or below a price cap to be established by a coalition of countries including members of the G7, the EU, and the United States.

Additionally, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) amended the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) on September 15 to (i) expand the scope of the Russian industry sector export restrictions to cover additional items, including quantum computing and advanced manufacturing-related hardware, software, and technology, and to apply the industry sector export restrictions to Belarus; (ii) add dollar value exclusion thresholds to some earlier restrictions on luxury goods exports to Russia; and (iii) expand the scope of the military end-user and military-intelligence end-user rules to reach entities in third countries, with a particular focus on entities that support military or military-intelligence end users or end uses in Russia or Belarus. On September 30, following Russia’s announcement that it would annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya regions of Ukraine, BIS added dozens of entities to its Entity List, which imposes BIS licensing requirements for the export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) to such entities of any goods, technology, and software that are subject to the EAR.Continue Reading The United States Imposes Additional Sanctions and Export Controls Against Russia and Belarus

On June 6 and June 9, 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued additional guidance on the sanctions that prohibit U.S. persons from making a “new investment” in Russia and from providing accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting services to any person located in Russia.

Separately, from June 15, 2022, the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) gained new powers to impose financial penalties for breaches of UK sanctions regulations (including, but not limited to, the UK sanctions regulations with respect to Russia) on a strict liability basis and to publish reports of cases where it is satisfied that a breach of financial sanctions has occurred but where no penalty is imposed.

This alert summarizes these new sanctions developments.

New U.S. Sanctions Developments

Guidance on the Prohibitions on “New Investment” by U.S. Persons in Russia

On June 6, 2022, OFAC issued guidance in the form of responses to new frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) to clarify certain aspects of the prohibitions on “new investment” in Russia by U.S. persons that were imposed under the following executive orders (“E.O.s”):

  • E.O. 14066, issued on March 8, 2022 (prohibiting new investment by U.S. persons in the energy sector of the Russian Federation, as described in our March 10 alert); 
  • E.O. 14068, issued on March 11, 2022 (prohibiting new investment by U.S. persons in any sector of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State); and 
  • E.O. 14071, issued on April 6, 2022 (prohibiting “all new investment in the Russian Federation by U.S. persons, wherever located” as well as “any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a U.S. person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited by E.O. 14071 if performed by a U.S. person or within the United States,” as described in our April 11 alert.

Continue Reading Recent Developments in U.S. and UK Sanctions: OFAC Guidance on “New Investment” and Prohibition on the Provision of Certain Services to Any Person in Russia; UK Sanctions Enforcement Developments

Five years ago today, Xiyue Wang was unjustly detained in Iran while conducting research there for his Ph.D. dissertation. We and others at Covington were honored to participate in the global advocacy campaign that culminated in Mr. Wang’s release in December 2019. Here, for the first time publicly, we discuss our work on his case.

Trump’s trade policy in a second term would basically be more of the same: he would continue hard bargaining with China and other trade partners, including by threatening tariffs under various provisions of U.S. trade law. President Trump would try to build on the Phase 1 trade agreement with China and would continue his hostility

STATEMENT OF STEPHEN G. RADEMAKER
Senior Of Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP

“50 Years of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: Strengthening the
NPT in the Face of Iranian and North Korean Nonproliferation Challenges” 

Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism
Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation

Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives

March 3, 2020

Chairman Deutch, Chairman Bera, Ranking Member Wilson, Ranking Member Yoho, and Members of the Subcommittees, I appreciate the invitation to appear before you today to discuss the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the two greatest threats facing it today: Iran and North Korea.

I will begin by making some observations about the treaty itself, and then move on to a discussion of the challenges presented by the Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs.

  1. Reflections on the NPT

You will hear very contradictory views expressed about the NPT.  On the one hand, there are those who celebrate its strength, pointing out that, with 191 states parties, it is the one of the most universally-adhered to treaties in history, and that it has limited the spread of nuclear weapons to just nine countries, which is a much smaller number than anyone would have predicted when the treaty entered into force 50 years ago tomorrow.

On the other hand, there are critics who will point out that nine countries is four more than the five countries that are permitted to possess nuclear weapons under the treaty, that permitting even five nuclear weapon states was five too many, and that the treaty is bound to collapse because of its inherent unfairness to the non-nuclear weapon states.  For many of these critics, the kind of problem we face today with Iran and North Korea was inevitable, and could only have been avoided if the five nuclear weapon states had moved much faster over the past 50 years to abolish nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.

Personally I see the NPT as much more a story of success than of failure.  It’s remarkable to consider how far the treaty has come from its somewhat inauspicious beginnings, and the many challenges it has overcome in the intervening years.

For starters, there’s the astonishing fact that despite all the complaints about how unfair the treaty is in advantaging five nuclear weapon states over everyone else, initially two of the five nuclear weapon states refused to join the treaty.  Neither France nor China acceded to the NPT until 1992, 22 years after the treaty entered into force.

As for the rest of the world, the list of treaty successes is considerably longer than the list of treaty failures.  We often forget how many countries were actively exploring the development of nuclear weapons before the treaty came along.  Back then it wasn’t countries like Iran and North Korea we were worried about, but rather much more technologically-advanced countries like Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and Australia–countries that could produce nuclear weapons much more readily than Iran and North Korea if they decided to do so.

South Africa possessed nuclear weapons under the Apartheid government, but gave them up and joined the NPT in 1991.  Ukraine found itself in possession of the world’s third-largest nuclear weapons arsenal upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but gave that up and joined the treaty in 1994.  Argentina and Brazil long appeared to be locked into a nuclear arms race, but in the 1990s they decided that they would prefer a relationship like the one between France and Germany to the one between Pakistan and India, and both countries abandoned their nuclear programs in favor of the treaty.Continue Reading 50 years of the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Introduction

On October 14, 2019, President Trump issued an Executive Order Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Syria. This Order provides authority for the imposition of sanctions (including secondary sanctions) on certain entities and individuals in response to Turkey’s military operations in Syria, which the Order states endanger innocent civilians, destabilize the region, and undermine the campaign to defeat the Islamic State.

The Executive Order provides authority to impose sanctions on parts of the Government of Turkey, current and former officials of the Government of Turkey, sectors of Turkey’s economy, and persons who are otherwise determined to be involved in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of Syria. The Executive Order provides additional authority to impose sanctions on foreign persons engaged in a range of activities that disrupt or prevent a ceasefire in northern Syria, the voluntary return to Syria of displaced persons, or efforts to promote a political solution to the conflict in Syria, or involve the commission of serious human rights abuses in relation to Syria. It further authorizes various secondary sanctions (a) for certain dealings in support of persons whose property is blocked pursuant to the Executive Order, and (b) against foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant financial transaction on behalf of such a blocked party.

Relying on the Executive Order, the Administration blocked all property and interests in property of the Government of Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the property and interests in property of the Minister of National Defense, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and Minister of the Interior.Continue Reading United States and European Union Impose Additional Sanctions in Response to Actions by Turkish Government

Administration Also Revises Russia Sanctions, Terminates Most Sudan Sanctions

On October 13, President Trump announced that he would no longer certify to Congress that the suspension of U.S. sanctions against Iran pursuant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) is “appropriate and proportionate” to the steps that Iran has taken to terminate its illicit nuclear program. The President’s much-anticipated announcement does not mean that the United States is withdrawing from the JCPOA, nor does it automatically result in the re- imposition of any U.S. sanctions against Iran. Rather, the President’s announcement gives the Congress 60 days to introduce legislation to re-impose U.S. sanctions that could be considered under expedited procedures. Importantly, although President Trump did not call on Congress to re-impose the pre-JCPOA U.S. nuclear-related sanctions, he did threaten to terminate U.S. participation in the JCPOA in the future if Congress and U.S. allies do not take action to address perceived flaws in the agreement.

At the same time, the Trump Administration expanded sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”), and designated four additional entities for sanctions for their support of Iran’s weapons proliferation activities. Further, Senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton announced that they would be introducing legislation to address perceived shortcomings in the JCPOA, consistent with President Trump’s request.

The developments of late last week follow several other recent changes in U.S. sanctions involving Russia and Sudan.

On September 29, the Trump Administration, as expected, revised key aspects of the U.S. sectoral sanctions against Russia relating to dealings in debt of certain parties operating in Russia’s financial services and energy sectors. The move was required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) discussed in our alert of July 28, 2017.

Finally, on October 12, the Trump Administration terminated most U.S. sanctions against Sudan, which had been substantially suspended since January 2017 pursuant to an Executive Order that President Obama issued in the waning days of his Administration.

Iran
Failure to Make INARA Certification 

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (“INARA”) requires that the President certify to Congress every 90 days that: (1) “Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing” the JCPOA; (2) Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the JCPOA, or if it has committed a material breach, then it has cured that breach; (3) Iran has not taken any action that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and (4) suspension of U.S. sanctions against Iran in connection with the JCPOA is “appropriate and proportionate” to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program and is “vital to the national security interests of the United States.”Continue Reading Developments in U.S. Iran Sanctions