United States sanctions

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Countries sanctioned in some form by the US (not including China)
Countries sanctioned in some form by the US (as of 2020)

After the failure of the Embargo Act of 1807, the federal government of the United States took little interest in imposing embargoes and economic sanctions against foreign countries until the 20th century. United States trade policy was entirely a matter of economic policy. After World War I, interest revived. President Woodrow Wilson promoted such sanctions as a method for the League of Nations to enforce peace.[1] However, he failed to bring the United States into the League and the US did not join the 1935 League sanctions against Italy.[2]

However, in 1940, the United States participated in the ABCD line against Japan, and the Helium Act of 1925 forbade export of that strategic commodity. Interest in the trade as a tool of foreign policy expanded during the Cold War era, and many economic sanctions were applied. The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, was only in effect for five years. Later, sanctions were additionally aimed against countries which the U.S. government listed as "State Sponsors of Terrorism".

The concept of sanctioning countries was realized when the United Nations (UN) was founded at the end of World War II. The idea of sanctioning reduced slavery, diminished the drug trade, and provided nations with non-violent coercive methods for use in foreign policy.

Sanctions imposed by the United States government include:

  • ban on arms-related exports[3]
  • controls over dual-use technology exports
  • restrictions on economic assistance
  • financial restrictions:
    • requiring the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and other international financial institutions
    • diplomatic immunity waived, to allow families of terrorist victims to file for civil damages in U.S. courts
    • tax credits for companies and individuals denied, for income earned in listed countries
    • duty-free goods exemption suspended for imports from those countries
    • authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from engaging in financial transactions with the government on the list, except by license from the U.S. government
    • prohibition of U.S. Defense Department contracts above $100,000 with companies controlled by countries on the list.[4]

Implementing agencies[edit]

Authorizing laws[edit]

Several laws delegate embargo power to the President:

Several laws specifically prohibit trade with certain countries:

Targeted parties[edit]

As of December 2020, the United States has sanctions against:[5]

Countries[edit]

Country Year introduced Article Summary
 North Korea 1950 North Korea–United States relations Severe sanctions justified by extreme human rights abuses by North Korea and the North Korean nuclear program. North Korea and the US currently have no diplomatic relations.

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS)[6]

 Cuba 1958 United States embargo against Cuba Reasons cited for the embargo include Cuba's poor human rights record. Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has regularly passed annual resolutions criticizing the ongoing impact of the embargo imposed by the United States.
 Iran 1979 (lifted 1981), reintroduced 1987 [a] United States sanctions against Iran Near total economic embargo on all economic activities, began in 1979; in response to the storming of U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian Revolutionaries, precipitating a hostage crisis involving dozens of American diplomats. Though lifted in 1981, significant sanctions were again imposed in 1987 and rapidly expanded in the late 2010s due to the Iranian Nuclear Program and Iran's poor human rights record. Iran and the US have no diplomatic relations. Iran is listed as state sponsor of terrorism.

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS)[6]

 Syria 1986 Syria–United States relations Reasons cited include Syria's poor human rights record, the Civil War, and being listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. Syria and the US have no diplomatic relations since 2012.

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS)[6]

 Venezuela 2019[b] International sanctions during the Venezuelan crisis[7] Reasons cited for sanctions include Venezuela's poor human rights record, links with illegal drug trade, high levels of state corruption and electoral rigging.

Since 2019, Venezuela and the United States have no diplomatic relations under Nicolás Maduro but maintain relations through disputed president Juan Guaidó.[8]

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS)[6]

Persons[edit]

Country Description
 Bangladesh Certain persons affiliated with the elite paramilitary force, RAB, along with the force itself, the US government believes to be committing serious human rights violations.[9][10]
 Belarus Certain persons the US government believes to be undermining democratic processes or institutions in Belarus (including President Alexander Lukashenko and other officials).

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report. However Belarus is subject to some certain exemptions.[6]

 Central African Republic Persons the US government believes contribute to the conflict in the Central African Republic.

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS).[1]

 China Persons the US government believe to be committing Genocide against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Tibet.

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS)[6] Since 2020, Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.[11]

 Democratic Republic of the Congo Certain persons the US government believes are contributing to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
 Eritrea Persons Army officials and high-ranking officials

Due to involvement in the Ethiopian war.[12]

 Hong Kong Persons the US government believes undermine Hong Kong's autonomy. This implements provision of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act of 2020 as well as executive order no. 13936.
 Iraq Specific individuals and entities associated with the former Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein, as well as parties the US government believes have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing acts of violence that threaten the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermine efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or make it more difficult for humanitarian workers to operate in Iraq.
 Lebanon Persons the US government believes undermine the sovereignty of Lebanon or its democratic processes and institutions.
 Liberia sanctions Liberia’s former warlord and senator Prince Johnson[13]
 Mali Persons contributing to the Conflict in Mali.
 Myanmar Officials associated with the Rohingya crisis[14] and the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état.[15]

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS).[6]

 Nicaragua Persons associated with contributing to the 2018–2020 Nicaraguan protests.[16]
 Russia Persons believed to be responsible for the detention, abuse, and death of Sergei Magnitsky and other reported violations of human rights in Russia (see Magnitsky Act of 2012). Since 2014, International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis, since 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS).[6]

 Somalia Certain persons the US government believes are contributing to the conflict in Somalia.
 South Sudan Persons the US government alleges have contributed to the conflict in South Sudan or committed human rights abuses.

Country listed as Tier 3 on Trafficking in Persons Report which imposes ban on participating in International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS).[6]

 Turkey After the purchase of a Russian-made S-400 air defense system, the US place anticipated sanctions on the Turkish Ministry of Defense and Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB)[17][18]
 Ukraine
 Russia
( Crimea)
Persons the US government believes undermine the peace, security, stability, territorial integrity and the democratic processes and institutions of Ukraine. Also persons administering areas of Ukraine without central government consent, also a number of Russian senior officials who are close to Vladimir Putin.
 Venezuela Persons who the US government believes are contributing to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.
 Yemen Persons who the US government claims threaten peace, security, or stability in Yemen.
 Zimbabwe Persons the US government believes undermine democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe, including a number of Government Officials.


Some countries listed are members of the World Trade Organization, but WTO rules allow trade restrictions for non-economic purposes.

Combined, the Treasury Department, the Commerce Department and the State Department list embargoes against 20 countries or territories:

  1.  Afghanistan
  2.  Belarus
  3.  Bolivia
  4.  Cambodia
  5.  China
  6.  Crimea
  7.  Cuba
  8.  Eritrea
  9.  Iran
  10.  Laos
  11.  Nicaragua
  12.  North Korea
  13.  Palestine
  14.  Russia
  15.  Syria
  16.  Venezuela
  17.  Yemen
  18.  Zimbabwe

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Temporarily lifted in 1981 during Iran–Iraq War, re-introduced in 1987
  2. ^ In August 2019, President Donald Trump announced further sanctions on Venezuela, ordering a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with US citizens or companies. Part of the ongoing Venezuelan presidential crisis which started in January 2019.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Evidence on the Costs and Benefits of Economic Sanctions". PIIE. 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  2. ^ Strang, G. Bruce (2008). ""The Worst of all Worlds:" Oil Sanctions and Italy's Invasion of Abyssinia, 1935–1936". Diplomacy & Statecraft. 19 (2): 210–235. doi:10.1080/09592290802096257. S2CID 154614365. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  3. ^ Haidar, Jamal Ibrahim (2016-08-16). "Sanctions and Exports Deflection: Evidence from Iran" (PDF). Paris School of Economics. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  4. ^ "Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism". Country Reports on Terrorism 2009. United States Department of State. 2010-08-05. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  5. ^ "Sanctions Programs and Country Information". United States Department of the Treasury. 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Staff, B. B. N. (November 30, 2018). "US cuts aid to Belize over Human Trafficking Tier 3 ranking".
  7. ^ "Venezuela: Overview of U.S. sanctions" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Federation of American Scientists. 8 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  8. ^ Meredith, Sam (21 May 2018). "US likely to slap tough oil sanctions on Venezuela — and that's a 'game changer' for Maduro". CNBC. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Global Magnitsky Designations; North Korea Designations; Burma-related Designations; Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies (NS-CMIC) List Update". U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  10. ^ Riaz, Ali (2021-12-16). "US sanctions on Bangladesh's RAB: What happened? What's next?". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 2022-01-18.
  11. ^ "Trump signed a law to punish China for its oppression of the Uighur Muslims. Uighurs say much more needs to be done". Business Insider. June 30, 2020.
  12. ^ https://amp.dw.com/en/us-sanctions-eritrean-military-over-role-in-tigray-conflict/a-59807992
  13. ^ https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-sanctions-liberias-former-warlord-and-senator-prince-johnson/article37926010.ece/amp/
  14. ^ "US sanctions Myanmar military over Rohingya ethnic cleansing". ABC News. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  15. ^ "US sanctions on Myanmar: 5 things to know". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  16. ^ Koran, Laura. "US slaps new sanctions on Nicaragua over violence, corruption". CNN. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  17. ^ "U.S. sanctions NATO ally Turkey over Russian defense system". NBC News.
  18. ^ Pompeo, Mike The United States Sanctions Turkey Under CAATSA 231 US Department of State

External links[edit]