Sanctions Top-5 for the week ending 21 August 2020

Here are five things that happened this week in the world of economic sanctions that I think you should know about.

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  1. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the United Nations Security Council that the US government would attempt to trigger the “snapback” provision of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to prevent the lifting of the UN arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October 2020. (More on this below.)


Secretary Pompeo explained in a news conference that the US government considers the political commitments made in the JCPOA to be separate from UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), which implements the agreement. Essentially, the United States is arguing that Resolution 2231, by its terms, gives the United States the right to continue participating in the sanctioning process as a member of the UN Security Council, despite the US withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018. (The diplomatic equivalent of tearing up your ticket after the train’s left the station.) I have to admit, to me, it’s not a terrible argument, albeit cheeky to the extreme. And, personally, I would rather see this worked out in the Security Council than outside of it.

Join me, Justine Walker, John Smith, Peter Harrell, and Melissa Duffy for a lively webinar on Hong Kong sanctions, WeChat, TikTok, and more, hosted by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) today, Tuesday, 25 August, at 11:00 p.m. Hong Kong time / 11:00 a.m. New York time. Register here. You can read Justine’s Industry Briefing Paper on the subject here.

But wait, there’s more. Check out the RegTech Asia 2020 virtual conference hosted by Regulation Asia, 2–3 September 2020. Ola Fundowicz and I will speak about “Sanctions and PEP Screening” on a panel moderated by Manesh Samtani. Register here.

Did I miss something? Send me a message or comment on LinkedIn.

(The views expressed are my own and do not constitute legal advice. Photo from Vladislav Reshetnyak.)



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Nicholas Turner

US attorney in Hong Kong specializing in economic sanctions, financial crimes. Sign up for emails: LinkedIn at: