President Trump has signed into law the controversial ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ (‘CAATSA’), despite describing the bill in an contemporaneous statement as ‘seriously flawed’ (2 August). The Act was passed by both houses in Congress, with a vote of 419-3 in the House of Representatives and 98-2 in the Senate.
The Act codifies existing Russian sanctions established by previous executive orders, and insists on Congressional approval before any sanctions against Russia can be eased, curtailing presidential authority. The Act also adds a number of measures to existing sanctions against Iran and North Korea, targeting Iran’s defence sector and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (‘IRGC’), and giving the president the discretion to expand designations on those who trade with North Korea in sectors such as mining, energy, transportation or financial services.
Existing sectoral sanctions against Russia have been expanded; these now include, amongst other provisions, a ban on US individuals providing goods, technology or non-financial services for unconventional oil-producing projects (deepwater, shale, Arctic offshore) worldwide, in which a banned person or entity has a significant interest (over 33%). The Act also allows the president to impose a range of new secondary sanctions on both US and non-US persons involved in Russian energy projects.
Other key provisions include the power to sanction those who undermine state cybersecurity on behalf of the Russian government – a response to the alleged cyber-hacking in the 2016 presidential election.
The president can also impose secondary sanctions on individuals or entities who deal with the Russian intelligence and defence sectors; those who are responsible for human rights abuses in Russia-controlled territory such as Ukraine; and persons or entities involved in exporting defence materials to Syria.
For the full text of the Act see: