Iran: President Rouhani Suggests Talks with US Possible if it Lifts Sanctions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Rouhani Suggests Talks with US Possible if it Lifts Sanctions

Wednesday, 29 May, 2019 – 11:00
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Wednesday that talks with the United States may be possible if it lifted sanctions against Iran.

“Whenever they lift the unjust sanctions and fulfill their commitments and return to the negotiations table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed,” he told a cabinet meeting without explicitly naming the US.

“But our people judge you by your actions, not your words,” he said according to state television.

Rouhani’s website also quoted him as saying that if the US chooses “another way and returns to justice and law, the Iranian nation will keep the road open to you.”

He made his comments days after US President Donald Trump said a deal with Tehran on its nuclear program was conceivable.

Washington withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran, and is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.

Trump said on Monday: “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran saw no prospect of negotiations with the United States.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States since Washington deployed military resources including a carrier strike group and bombers and announced plans to deploy 1,500 troops to the Middle East, prompting fears of a conflict.

Iran’s President Decries US Policy Of Maximum Pressure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran’s Rouhani Decries US Policy of Maximum Pressure

Wednesday, 1 May, 2019 – 09:15
Rouhani speaks during a ceremony marking national Workers’ Week in Tehran, Iran April 30, 2019. (Reuters)
London – Asharq Al-Awsat
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivered Tuesday a vocal defiance to Washington’s latest measure to bring Iranian oil exports to zero.

“We will bring the US to its knees,” said Rouhani two days ahead of US decision to end waivers for country’s buying Iranian oil goes into effect.

Rouhani’s bellicose words followed an even tougher speech delivered by Qassem Soleimani, who commands the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.

“Enemies are looking to harm us through coercion, sanctions and threatening the country’s stability,” Soleimani said, while stressing that the US is going full-throttle in its attempt to trigger regime change in Tehran.

Last week, Washington announced it will no longer exempt eight countries that mainly import oil from Iran from economic sanctions. The move is set to place maximum pressure on Tehran so that it returns to negotiations and complies with 12 demands which include ending its support for regional militias, as well as freezing its development of ballistic missiles.

Since then, Rouhani and Iran’s top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have signaled willingness to reopen negotiation channels.

But Soleimani blasted any talks under the pressure of economic sanctions as “degrading, capitulation and surrender.”

The country’s ultra-conservative Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, for his part, deemed returning to the roundtable a “strategic blunder.”

“America’s decision that Iranian oil exports should reach zero is wrong and incorrect, and we will not allow this decision to be implemented,” Rouhani said.

“In the coming months, the Americans themselves will see that we will continue our oil exports,” Rouhani said, taking pride in Tehran having “six methods” to circumvent US sanctions.

Rouhani and Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington tries to halt Iranian oil exports.

The Strait of Hormuz links the crude-producing countries of the Middle East and markets in Asia and the Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond, and a third of the world’s sea-transported oil passes through it every day.

Iran has also threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal itself if European powers do not succeed in ensuring Tehran’s economic benefits.

European countries have said they would help companies keep their operations with Iran as long as they are committed to the deal, but Tehran has criticized what it sees as a slow pace of progress in the implementation of a payment mechanism for trade settlement between Iran and Europe.

China Vows ‘Severe Consequences’ If Huawei Official Is Not Released

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

 

China Vows ‘Severe Consequences’ If Huawei Official Is Not Released

Meng Wanzhou is being held in Canada at U.S. request to be extradited, face allegations she violated sanctions on dealing with Iran

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on an extradition warrant, appears at her bail hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on an extradition warrant, appears at her bail hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday. PHOTO: STRINGER/REUTERS

BEIJING—China issued an ultimatum to Canada, demanding the immediate release of Huawei Technologies Co.’s finance chief or face unspecified “severe consequences.”

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland declined to comment on Saturday, and instead referred to remarks Ms. Freeland made to reporters on Friday.

On Friday, Ms. Freeland said in a conference call there was no political interference in the decision to detain Ms. Meng, and the detention was handled at the “officials’ level.” She said Canada’s relationship with China is something the country values, and Mr. McCallum “has been very clear that this was a matter handled as part of our rule-of-law process.”

The warning marks an escalation in rhetoric by the Chinese government over the case of Ms. Meng, who is in the midst of hearings in Canada for extradition to the U.S. to face allegations she violated sanctions on dealing with Iran.

The Canadian judge in Ms. Meng’s hearing on Friday, Justice William Ehrcke of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, didn’t rule on her bail, and scheduled the court to reconvene on Monday morning.

Aside from being CFO and deputy chairwoman, Ms. Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s founder. The status has made her situation seem more bitter to many Chinese. Social-media sites have been flooded with criticism that the U.S. is trying to pull down an iconic Chinese company and strike a blow in the countries’ trade fight.

In court filings for  Ms. Meng’s bail hearing in Vancouver on Friday, U.S. authorities alleged that she misled banks about Huawei’s ties to a subsidiary that did business in Iran. Those banks cleared hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions that potentially violated international sanctions, according to the filings.

The case risks complicating U.S.-China trade negotiations, with the two sides having agreed to refrain from imposing new tariffs to try to seek a compromise within the next three months.

Paul Vieira contributed to this article.

Write to Eva Dou at [email protected]

Facing US Sanctions, Tehran Set to Lose Economic Deals in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Facing US Sanctions, Tehran Set to Lose Economic Deals in Syria

Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 – 09:15
Booth selling handmade crafts in Damascus bazaar, EPA
Damascus – Asharq Al-Awsat
Washington’s newly imposed sanctions on Iran have given rise to many speculations concerning the fate of Tehran’s recently stepped up investments in Syria.

Despite Iran and Syria labeling their relationship as ‘strategic’ when it comes to political, military and security cooperation, their economic ties have remained humble with a small trade exchange valued at $361 million between 2010 and 2011.

Most of trade happening between the two is skewed to benefit Iran, and fails to meet forecast hopes. Both Damascus and Tehran had hoped to achieve a whopping $2 billion exchange.

Iranian investment is at the bottom of the list when compared with other countries that ventured in Syrian markets that opened up to better global trade relations in 2000. The number of projects undertaken by Iran between 2006 and 2010 totaled seven only, and included a cement manufacture plant, energy supply contracts, and car production deals involving the Syrian Iranian Car Manufacturing Company LLC (SIAMCO).

During that very same period, Turkey bagged a total of 26 investment projects in Syria. Back in 2010, the Syria government approved 37 foreign investment projects, ten of which belonged to Turkey.

After the 2011 uprising set Syria on a downward spiral of bloodshed and devastation, the country’s gross domestic production took a crippling blow and bled an estimated $226 million in losses. Syria’s currency lost up to 90 percent of its value, leaving 85 percent of the Middle Eastern country’s population below the poverty line.

In the aftermath of the Syria Civil war, unemployment aggravated to a staggering 53 percent in 2015 and coincided with depleted national foreign currency reserves, with reports saying the country was left with a diminishing 5.88 percent of its pre-war foreign currency reserves.

Reaching such a tattered state of affairs forced the Syrian regime to seek out squeezing more economic help from Iran, in addition to military and political support. Responding to regime calls, Tehran increased its economic input in Syria by late 2011.

Nevertheless, the contribution did not come by for free. Iran soon subdued the Syrian regime by inking multiple agreements stringing across the entirety of Syrian economic sectors. Quintessential to its influence in Syria, Tehran secured a considerable share in production industries linked to the war-torn country’s sovereign wealth and natural resources.

These stakes were handed over to Iran to settle outstanding debts.

In August 2013, Tehran loaned Damascus $3.6 billion to cover for the regime’s oil derivatives expenditure.  But it was agreed that the money buys Iranian oil exclusively.

Later in July 2017, Bashar Assad approved his country acquiring another $1 billion loan to finance exports.

Syria’s energy, telecommunications, financial, construction and industrial sectors– to some degree–are spending Iranian credit. But it will not be a walk in the park for Iran to secure its share of the Syrian economy.

Russia, a strong regime ally, is also seeking to grab serious investment projects in Syria.  In light of competitiveness, observers believe that Moscow might use US sanctions to sway the situation in its favor, especially in forcing the Syrian regime to hand over energy sector concessions, previously promised to Iran, to Russian companies.

US sanctions are also expected to reduce the spread of Iran proxy militias in Syria because of lack of funds—signs of the US economic sanctions effecting Iran’s regional standing began showing as Russian troops began replacing Iran-linked forces in military outposts in eastern Syria.

For example, Russian forces have taken control of locations, formerly held by Iranian militias, in Abu Kamal, a city on the Euphrates river in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor province near the border with Iraq.

India set to sign S-400 missile deal during Vladimir Putin’s visit next week

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Amid US sanctions, India set to sign S-400 missile deal during Vladimir Putin’s visit next week

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between PM Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping for a US sanction waiver, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

INDIA Updated: Sep 30, 2018 09:15 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India,Russia,Narendra Modi
Russian servicemen drive S-400 missile air defense systems during the Victory Day parade, at Red Square in Moscow.(Reuters/File Photo)

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping that it has done enough business with the US to secure a waiver from sanctions, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

Hindustan Times had first reported in April that the deal would be signed during the October summit and, in May, that New Delhi would go ahead with the purchase despite US sanctions against countries buying arms from Russia.

South Block officials said that the deal is also in line with India’s efforts to maintain strategic autonomy and not be dependent on any one nation for its military hardware imports.

The South Block officials told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity that while the purchase of five units of the S-400 missile system was cleared this week by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the deal to build four stealth frigates in collaboration with Russia is stuck on technical aspects.

Even though India has apprised US of its intentions to purchase the S-400 system and has requested a presidential waiver of CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), the Modi government has had to tread a fine balance between a new partner and an old ally which could cut off hardware spares in case the missile system acquisition is either delayed or shelved.

More than 60% of Indian military equipment, including fighters, tanks and missiles, come from Russia and without the spares, the armed forces’ fighting capability will be significantly emasculated. For instance, the Indian Air Force Sukhois and Indian Army T series of tanks and Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier Vikramaditya are all from Russia.

The other reason why the Modi government is keen to push the deal through is because it is worried, the officials added, that an upset Russia may directly sell arms to Pakistan just as it is doing so to China, skewing the military balance in the region.

Diplomatically too, deferring or shelving the S-400 deal will sour the close relationship shared by Prime Minister Modi and President Putin. PM Modi has personally invested a lot in building close ties with Putin, the officials said, although this has not come at the cost of India’s relationship with the US.

According to the officials, while Russian hardware may not be top of the line as compared to the US platforms in terms of technology, it is much cheaper initially and comes without additional conditionals on the buyer. While the tussle between the US on one side and Russia/China on the other have made a fit case for Indian state-owned defense manufacturers to step up to manufacture indigenous weapons at a rapid rate, the fact is that most have been found wanting.

For instance, the officials pointed out, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) cannot keep up with the requirements of the Indian Air Force for light combat aircraft (LCA). Nevertheless, the government is clear that the only way out of this imbroglio is to manufacture indigenous systems and platforms rather than be dependent on anyone, the officials admitted.

Meanwhile, the Modi government has deepened its military ties with the Pentagon by placing over $5 billion worth of orders with US defense contractors for strike platforms. India has placed orders for one more C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft (it already has 10), four additional P8I Neptune anti-submarine warfare aircraft, six additional Apache attack helicopters for the army, 24 Sikorsky helicopters for the navy, and M-777 lightweight howitzers. US F-18 and F-35 fighters are also in contention for the additional fighter order the Indian Air Force is evaluating.

First Published: Sep 30, 2018 06:59 IST

Lebanon Stresses Compliance With US Measures Against Hezbollah

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Lebanon Stresses Compliance With US Measures Against Hezbollah

Friday, 28 September, 2018 – 09:45
Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh delivers a speech during the plenary session of the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Tokyo. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
Beirut – Nazeer Rida
The new US draft-law on Hezbollah is moving to an advanced stage involving media funders, economic and social institutions linked to the group, in what seems to be “an attempt to isolate the supporters of the party, which is facing increased financial pressure,” according to experts.

The new draft-law imposes sanctions on the supporters of “Bayt al-Mal” and “Jihad Al-Bina”, which is involved in construction works, as well as the party’s media institutions, and includes advertisers who broadcast ads through Hezbollah’s channels.

While the bill seeks to “increase pressure on banks dealing with the group,” Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday in response to a question about his willingness to enforce the sanctions: “We, as the central bank, issued circulars a while ago, and there aren’t new notices.” He explained and these circulars make Lebanon comply with the laws of countries that have currency or banks dealings with it.

He pointed out in a radio interview that those circulars were sufficient enough whatever the new sanctions, adding that there was nothing new on this subject.

The US House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass a bill calling for new and harsh sanctions against Hezbollah. The new sanctions aim to limit the party’s ability to raise funds and recruit members, as well as increase pressure on the banks that deal with the group and the countries that support it, especially Iran. The sanctions also prohibit anyone who supports the party materially and in other means from entering the United States.

According to Dr. Sami Nader, Director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs (LISA), the new bill shows that the circle of sanctions is widening, since it started with Hezbollah’s officials, then reached the entities associated with the party, and today includes the supporters of the group’s institutions.

 

 

China urges US to withdraw ‘sanctions’ on Chinese military

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI SHINE DAILY NEWSPAPER)

(BEIJING KNEW BEFORE THEY PURCHASED WEAPONS FROM RUSSIA THAT THERE WERE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN MILITARY EXPORTS YET CHOSE TO BUY THEM ANYWAY. IF THE U.S. HAD NOT PUT SANCTIONS ON CHINA FOR BREAKING THAT EMBARGO THEN BEIJING WOULD HAVE LOOKED AT NOT DOING SO AS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS FROM THE U.S. SO IN REALITY, BEIJING NEEDS TO QUIT WHINING ABOUT EVERYONE WHO DOESN’T KISS THEIR PROVERBIAL ASS!) 

China urges US to withdraw ‘sanctions’ on Chinese military

Xinhua

China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday demanded the United States to immediately correct its wrongdoing and withdraw “sanctions” on the Chinese military.

The US State Department announced Thursday that it would impose sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission of China and the department’s director, alleging that China had violated the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.”

“China is strongly indignant at the unreasonable move on the part of the United States and has lodged stern representations to the US side,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a routine press briefing.

“The US move seriously breached the basic rules of international relations and severely harmed relations between the two countries as well as the two militaries,” Geng said.

“We strongly urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake and withdraw the so-called sanctions. Otherwise, the US side must bear the consequences caused thereafter.”

China to slap additional tariffs on US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI ‘SHINE’ NEWS AGENCY)

 

China to slap additional tariffs on US

Xinhua

China has decided to impose additional tariffs on imported products from the United States worth about US$16 billion, according to an official statement released yesterday.

Approved by the State Council, its Customs Tariff Commission has decided to impose additional duties of 25 percent on the US$16 billion of US products after making proper adjustments to the second part of a list of the products subject to the tariffs. The additional duties will take effect on August 23.

Commenting on the decision, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said it is totally unreasonable for the US to put domestic laws above international laws time and time again. To defend its legitimate rights and interests and the multilateral trade system, China was forced to take necessary countermeasures, said the spokesman.

The customs tariff commission said the list has been appropriately adjusted after taking into account the advice of related government departments, industry associations and enterprises to best protect the interest of domestic consumers and companies.

The commission also published a final version of the second part of the list on the website of the Ministry of Finance.

In June, the customs authority unveiled a list of products from the US worth US$50 billion that will be subject to additional tariffs in response to US announcement to impose additional duties on Chinese imports.

Additional duties on the US products in the first part of the list, worth US$34 billion, came into force on July 6.

N. Korea’s Olympics delegation to be led by a wanted mass murderer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

North Korea’s new Olympics delegation to be led by man blamed for deadly ship attack

Pyeongchang, South Korea (CNN)North Korea is sending another high-level delegation to South Korea for the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony this Sunday, led by a man widely believed to have masterminded the sinking of a South Korean navy ship that killed 46 sailors.

Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chairman of the Party Central Committee, will lead the delegation that’s due to arrive by land on the Gyeongui rail line hours before the ceremony starts, according to a statement Thursday from the South’s Ministry of Unification.

A giant floating crane lifts the stern of the 1,200-tonne sunken Cheonan to place it on a barge, before returning it to South Korea, April 15, 2010.

Kim is the former chief of the North’s Reconnaissance Bureau, a top military intelligence body blamed by Seoul for a torpedo attack that sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan, in 2010.
The choice of Kim to lead the delegation is likely to be interpreted as an intentional provocation. Kim is named on the list of individuals sanctioned by both the US and South Korea. The US sanctions include provisions intended to restrict movement, though it is not clear whether Kim’s trip to the South is in breach of travel-specific sanctions.
The announcement poses a renewed diplomatic challenge for hosts South Korea, who in addition to navigating issues relating to sanctions, will again need to accommodate both the North Korean and US delegations, without offending either party.

Pence, Kim Jong Un's sister ignore each other

  
The Opening Ceremony saw US Vice President Mike Pence positioned just a few seats away from members of the North’s high-level delegation, including Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The US delegation during Sunday’s Closing Ceremony will be led by Ivanka Trump, the first daughter and senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, raising the prospect of a chance encounter between a member of the Trump family and members of the North’s delegation.
A more formalized meeting between the two sides appears unlikely, however, following comments from the South Korean government ruling out their involvement in such a possibility.
“The Blue House will not facilitate a meeting between Ivanka and North Korea’s high-level delegation,” said a government spokesman, referring to the official name of the executive office of the South Korean president.
When asked whether both Trump and North Korean delegates would be invited to a VIP reception before the Closing Ceremony, the spokesman declined to comment, saying he doesn’t yet know how it will pan out.

Full delegation

Other members of the North’s delegation include Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the “Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the country” and six support staff.
Ri was among the delegation sent to South Korea in January for talks which led to North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics.
“We expect the high-level delegation’s participation in the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to help advance the process of settling peace on the Korean Peninsula including the improvement of inter-Korean relations and denuclearization,” the South Korean statement said.
It added that practical matters, including the delegation’s itinerary, would be discussed through an exchange of documents at Panmunjeom, known as the “truce village,” in the Joint Security Area between North and South Korea.

South Korean sailors salute images of their fallen comrades during a Cheonan memorial service in Seoul, April 25, 2010.

Cheonan Memorial

A total of 104 personnel were aboard the Cheonan when it sunk while conducting a normal mission in the vicinity of Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, in March 2010. Though rescue efforts continued for several days and involved more than 20 vessels, only 58 men were rescued from the ship.
According to an official South Korean report, based on an investigation conducted by South Korean, US, Swedish, British and Australian officials, the ship was attacked by a North Korean torpedo, fired from a small submarine.
North Korea has never claimed responsibility and refuses to accept the findings of the official report.
During his recent trip to South Korea, Vice President Pence visited the Cheonan Memorial which honors the 46 South Korean sailors killed in the attack.
Pence toured a museum featuring the sailors’ stories and examined remains of the Korean warship.
Speaking outside the memorial, Pence said the objective of the visit was to show that the US “stand(s) with our allies.”

U.S. Finally Lifts Economic Sanctions On Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

US to lift sanctions on Sudan

The world’s largest producer of Gum arabic 04:49

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Starting October 12, Sudan will no longer be subject to a 20-year-old US trade embargo and will have access to previously frozen assets
  • Sudan will remain on the United States’ State Sponsors of Terrorism list

(CNN)The United States will lift a myriad of economic sanctions against Sudan next Thursday, marking a significant warming of relations with a country whose leader has been charged with genocide by the International Criminal Court.

The move follows 16 months of diplomatic negotiations, initiated under former US President Barack Obama and continued under President Donald Trump, who signed off on the sanctions relief.
“This marks one step forward on a long and hard road where much more progress is needed,” a senior administration official told reporters Friday.
Starting October 12, however, Sudan will no longer be subject to a 20-year-old US trade embargo and will have access to previously frozen assets.
Some of the sanctions in question were temporarily lifted in January, allowing Sudan to purchase US goods as long as it continued to show progress on five so-called “tracks,” which include maintaining regional ceasefires, enhancing counterterrorism cooperation, and improving humanitarian access.
“Going forward, we’re going to engage the government of Sudan to ensure that there’s no regression on its positive actions to date,” the official said, “and secondly, to work for continued progress, both on the issues in the five track areas, and to advance additional administration priorities.”
“Any further normalization of ties will require continued progress by the Government of Sudan,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Friday. “Furthermore, the United States is prepared to use additional tools to apply pressure if the Government of Sudan regresses on progress to date in the five areas noted above or takes negative actions on other areas of concern.”
The Trump administration had an initial opportunity to remove these sanctions in July, but opted instead to extend the temporary relief while continuing to engage the diplomatically isolated African nation.
That decision was aimed, in part, at increasing the pressure on Sudan to break off relations with North Korea, from whom they were recently accused of buying weapons by a United Nations panel.
According to a second administration official, who also briefed reporters on the policy change, Sudan has pledged not to pursue arms deals with Pyongyang going forward.
“We will not necessarily take the government at their word,” the official cautioned. “We will be closely monitoring the situation, and they understand that we have zero tolerance for continued arms deals with North Korea.”
Despite this latest action, Sudan will remain on the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list. It also remains subject to separate United Nations Security Council sanctions related to its violent crackdown on opposition groups in Darfur, for which Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, faces international criminal prosecution on charges of crimes against humanity, including genocide.
“Our views on this haven’t changed,” one official said regarding those genocide charges. “Essentially, we continue to call for all those responsible for crimes in Darfur to be held accountable.”