US administration issues guidance after re-imposition of Iran sanctions

November, 2018

Largest demonstration of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran by current US administration to date.

US administration issues guidance after re-imposition of Iran sanctions

The US re-imposed significant sanctions on Iran on 5 November. Over 700 banks, individuals, companies, aircraft and vessels were added to its Specially Designated Nationals (‘SDN’) List in the largest demonstration of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran by the current US administration to date.

The move followed the end of the 180-day wind-down period under which companies were allowed to phase out their activities in Iran. Revisions to the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (‘ITSR’) are also now in force. The US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (‘JCPOA’) – agreed between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU – in May, imposing a first tranche of sanctions in August. Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to reduce its nuclear capacity in return for the easing of sanctions.

A statement by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’) said that its action was ‘designed to disrupt the Iranian regime’s ability to fund its broad range of malign activities, and places unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime to negotiate a comprehensive deal that will permanently prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, cease Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, and end Iran’s broad range of malign activities.’

All Iranian financial institutions previously subject to sanctions under Executive Order 13599 List have been moved to the SDN List.  ‘Under the JCPOA, many of these financial institutions were listed under a separate EO 13599 List maintained by OFAC which indicated they were blocked for US persons, but not subject to secondary sanctions for non-US persons,’ according to law firm Pillsbury’s blog. ‘As of November 5, 2018, OFAC has removed the EO 13599 List and issued individual sanctions designations for a large number of Iranian financial institutions. For non-US persons, secondary sanctions apply to significant transactions with SDN banks, but not to Iranian financial institutions that are not individually designated as SDNs.’

OFAC has provided updated FAQ guidance on the receipt of payments for transactions completed during the wind-down periods and confirming that general licences continue to apply for the sale of certain agricultural commodities, food, medicine or medical devices to Iran.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of the E3 (France, Germany and the UK) expressed ‘regret’ at the latest re-imposition of sanctions, as in their view ‘the JCPOA is working and delivering on its goal.’

For further and fuller analysis, see the new issue of WorldECR (issue 74)


The White House fact sheet on the sanctions can be found here:

OFAC’s FAQs can be found here:

The UK government’s updated guide to exporting to Iran can be found here:


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