April 22, 2019

The response didn't take long.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the United States would not renew waivers exempting five countries from sanctions on Iranian oil imports. Pompeo said the intention is "to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue."

The list of countries includes large markets such as China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey. And a few of them quickly let the U.S. know they were not happy about the announcement.

Iran denounced the move as "illegal" and denied that it has "any value or credibility." Turkey, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, followed suit. The country's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter that Turkey would not accept the "unilateral" terms.

China also pushed back, calling Pompeo's words more evidence of the United States' "unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction."

On the flip side, Israel and Saudi Arabia — two countries historically at odds with Iran — praised the decision. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it "is of great importance for increasing pressure" on Iran.

India, South Korea, and Japan have yet to formally respond.

The announcement is the latest example of the Trump administrating ramping up tensions with Iran — the White House recently designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group. Tim O'Donnell

April 21, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning on telling allies Japan, South Korea, and Turkey on Monday that the United States will begin sanctioning them if they keep importing Iranian oil, three U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Sunday.

After the Trump administration pulled the U.S. from its 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, eight countries who received oil from Iran were granted sanctions waivers and told they needed to start looking for alternate energy sources. Greece, Taiwan, and Italy have all stopped importing oil from Iran, but Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China, and India have not, and the waivers expire on May 2. Turkey has been vocal about the fact that it needs Iranian oil to meet its energy needs, with senior officials urging the U.S. to reconsider, AP reports.

President Trump decided on Friday not to extend the waivers, as a way to pressure Iran, officials said. It's unclear if sanctions will start on May 3 if the countries do not immediately stop importing the oil. Catherine Garcia

April 4, 2018

The United States is planning on imposing economic sanctions against Russian oligarchs linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials told The Washington Post.

The sanctions, expected by Friday, will target at least six people who appeared on a list of Russian political and business leaders released by the Treasury Department in January, as mandated by Congress. Several national security aides have been calling on President Trump to enact additional sanctions in the wake of the poisoning of a Russian former spy now living in England, and on Tuesday, outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the U.S. has "failed to impose sufficient costs."

Last week, the U.S. expelled 60 Russian spies and diplomats in response to the poisoning, and Russia went on to order 60 U.S. diplomats out of the country by April 5. Catherine Garcia

July 26, 2017

In an attempt to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro into canceling this Sunday's election to choose members of an assembly that will rewrite the country's constitution, the United States on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on 13 current and former government officials, military officers, and managers at the state-run oil company.

They are being accused of undermining democracy, corruption, and alleged human rights abuses, The Guardian reports. The targeted officials include Nestor Reverol, who in 2016 was indicted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges and the next day was promoted to interior ministry for security; army chief Jesus Suarez; and national police director Carlos Perez. Maduro said the Venezuelan government does not "recognize any sanctions," and the vote is still on.

Opposition leaders are boycotting the vote, which they believe will push Venezuela into an authoritarian regime; Maduro said instead, it will usher in peace following months of deadly anti-government protests. Catherine Garcia

December 1, 2016

In response to North Korea conducting its fifth and largest nuclear test in September, South Korea announced Thursday it will pursue further unilateral sanctions against the country.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council enacted new sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to cut the country's annual export revenue by a quarter, Reuters reports. "Following this resolution, we will develop diplomatic pressure and sanctions against North Korea in all directions, and quickly deploy unilateral sanctions with the U.S., Japan, EU, and other friendly countries," South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said. He did not release any additional information on the sanctions or when they will be implemented. Catherine Garcia

July 7, 2016

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been placed on the U.S. sanctions list for human rights abuses, the State Department announced Wednesday.

The State Department and Treasury spent years on an investigation into North Korea, and said the government "continues to commit serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, forced labor, and torture." Beyond Kim, 22 other individuals and entities are named, including the director of the Organization and Guidance Department, which enforces ideological discipline, and officials from the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which tracks down defectors after they leave North Korea.

While the sanctions are mostly symbolic, companies would be prohibited from doing business with Kim or any companies he controls and assets he owns in the U.S. would be frozen, international trade attorney Thad McBride told USA Today. Other heads of state previously sanctioned by the U.S. include Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Catherine Garcia

February 11, 2016

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 96-0 in favor of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, which targets North Korea's ability to finance the development of nuclear warheads and long-range ballistic missiles.

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida both left the campaign trail to return to Washington for the vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) chose to keep campaigning the day after he won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, but released a statement voicing his support for the sanctions against the "totalitarian state of North Korea" that is "becoming more belligerent by the day." The sanctions, he said, "are an important tool in resolving the growing threat from Pyongyang. The legislation before the Senate would help prevent North Korea from obtaining goods or technology related to nuclear weapons, ban foreign assistance to any country that provides lethal military equipment to North Korea, and target the country's trade in key industrial commodities."

The legislation comes after North Korea's latest satellite launch. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in January. Catherine Garcia

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