Economic Sanctions Initiative

  • O'Toole Quoted in MarketWatch on Treasury Extends Deadline for Deripaska


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  • SWIFT Action Risks Unintended Consequences

    US legislators weighing options to punish rogue actors using the plumbing of the international financial system – the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) – must carefully weigh the benefits of any such decision against the broad potential consequences. Unilateral, isolated policy making that implicates SWIFT risks hampering the flow of global financial transactions and trade, harming US businesses as well as further antagonizing European allies.

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  • JCPOA in Peril - EU SPV to the Rescue?

    The European Union’s (EU) foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, recently announced that the EU will set-up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) “to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran and allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran.” In response, our visiting senior fellow, Samantha Sultoon, argued that this SPV will not provide a reliable path around US sanctions, and may undermine the effectiveness of US and EU sanctions in the long-run. This edition of the EconoGraphic explains how the SPV would work in practice and outlines why this mechanism is unlikely to offer Iran enough economic upside to keep the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) alive. 

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  • China: Iran’s Lifeline to Overcome Oil Sanctions

    The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May has thrown a previously established, delicate geopolitical balance into disarray. The remaining signatories of the JCPOA—Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia—are exploring options to circumvent the resumption of US sanctions on Tehran primarily by establishing a channel to allow financial transactions to cover exports from Iran.

    But for all parties of the JCPOA, the key Iranian commodity of interest is crude oil, particularly for Beijing. In 2017, one-third of Iran’s oil exports were sold to China—more than any other country. This relationship between the two countries softens the blow of US sanctions on Iran by giving Tehran a lifeline when facing economic hardship, to an extent.

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  • Europe Unlikely to Avoid Trump's Iran Sanctions

    Prompted by the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA), the remaining signatories are urgently seeking ways to maintain the agreement—both for strategic reasons and to preserve its trade benefits. A British, French, and German proposal to launch an independent channel for maintaining trade with Tehran, however, is unlikely to succeed and risks undermining the effectiveness of European economic sanctions. 

    The three European countries (also known as the E3) are reportedly pursuing the establishment of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to evade US sanctions and ostensibly maintain legitimate trade with Iran. The proposed SPV would essentially act as an accounting firm, tracking credits against imports and exports without the involvement of European...

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  • Europe Unlikely to Avoid Trump's Iran Sanctions

    Prompted by the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA), the remaining signatories are urgently seeking ways to maintain the agreement—both for strategic reasons and to preserve its trade benefits. A British, French, and German proposal to launch an independent channel for maintaining trade with Tehran, however, is unlikely to succeed and risks undermining the effectiveness of European economic sanctions.

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  • Singh Quoted in WSJ on New Sanctions


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  • Fried Quoted in Rolling Stone on Russia Receiving Teacher Pension Money


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  • Trump’s Election Meddling Sanctions Will Not Deter Russia

    US President Donald J. Trump on September 12 issued a new executive order (EO) authorizing sanctions in response to interference in US elections, likely as an attempt to stave off two bipartisan bills circulating in the Senate that would mandate significant sanctions against Russia. The EO is a mixed bag; it directs cabinet officials to produce reports on interference following every US federal election—a good step toward showing seriousness—but the sanctions in the EO do not substantially change the status quo, especially from the perspective of providing an effective deterrent to Russian aggression. 

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  • Singh Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee on Sanctions


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