OFAC adopted regulations that implement Executive Order 13928 ("Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court [ICC]"). The Executive Order affirmed that the United States does not recognize ICC jurisdiction, and that the United States will regard as a hostile act any attempt by the ICC to take prosecutorial action against U.S. personnel or the personnel of U.S. allies that have not consented to the jurisdiction of the ICC. The regulation sets forth a framework on administrative practice and procedure, banking, blocking of assets, penalties and sanctions and will enable sanctions against ICC officials and others who attempt to investigate, arrest or prosecute any U.S. personnel without permission from the government. OFAC stated that it intends to supplement the regulations with more comprehensive guidance at a later date.
Additionally, OFAC adopted amendments to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations ("WMD Regulations"). OFAC amended Note 1 under OFAC Rule 544.201 ("Prohibited Transactions Involving Blocked Property") to provide additional information concerning the risks associated with dealings involving persons designated on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List ("SDN List") pursuant to the WMD Regulations for North Korea-related activities. Separately, OFAC amended the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations ("ITSR") by refining the list of organizations with which activities are authorized for the "official business of certain international organizations."
The amendments are effective immediately.
Commentary James Treanor
Combined with the sanctions recently imposed on an ICC prosecutor and top official, publication of the International Criminal Court-Related Sanctions Regulations signals that President Trump's authorization of ICC sanctions in June 2020 was no empty threat. Rather, the Trump Administration views the ICC's investigation of actions by the U.S. military in Afghanistan as a serious challenge to national security and America's sovereignty. It remains to be seen whether additional sanctions will be imposed on other ICC staff or their supporters, and whether the Trump Administration's hard-line rhetoric will translate into aggressive enforcement targeting prohibited dealings with these sanctioned persons. Absent a stand-down at the ICC or a change in administration next January, a soft touch looks unlikely.
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