Do you see…
These are the countries whose proven oil reserves are in the top 5 globally:
- Venezuela – 300,878 billion barrels
- Saudi Arabia – 266,455 billion barrels
- Canada – 169,709 billion barrels
- Iran – 158,400 billion barrels
- Iraq – 142,503 billion barrels
– currently under U.S. embargo (ban on trade or other commercial activity):
– currently under U.S. sanctions (economic measure for forcing a nation to yield):
Countries under embargo:
Venezuela -Year introduced (2018)
Reasons cited for sanctions includes Venezuela’s poor human rights record, links with illegal drug trade, high levels of state corruption and electoral rigging
Iran -Year introduced: 1979 (Lifted 1981), Reintroduced 1987
Near total economic embargo on all economic activities, including a ban on all Iranian imports, sanctions on Iranian financial institutions as well as restriction on the sale of aircraft and repair parts as well as arms embargoes. This policy began in 1979 as a response to the Iranian Revolution, but has been rapidly expanded over recent years due to the Iranian Nuclear Program and Iran’s poor human rights record. Iran and the US have no diplomatic relations. Listed as state sponsor of terrorism. On May 30, 2013, OFAC issued Iranian General License D, authorizing the exportation or reexportation, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by U.S. persons, wherever located, to persons in Iran of “certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications”. General License D enumerates certain categories allowed to be exported to Iran. For scope and further details, see General License D and the Annex to General License D.
North Korea – Year introduced: 1950
Severe sanctions justified by extreme human rights abuses by North Korea and the North Korean nuclear program. North Korea and the US currently have no diplomatic relations.
Syria -Year introduced: 1986
Reasons cited for sanctions include Syria’s poor human rights record, the present Civil War, and being listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. Syria and the US currently have no diplomatic relations as of 2012.
Sudan -Year introduced: 1993
Reasons cited for sanctions include Sudan’s poor human rights record, the present War in Darfur, and being listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. Most US sanctions on Sudan were lifted in October 2017 by Executive Order of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Cuba -Year introduced: 1958
Reasons cited for the embargo include Cuba’s poor human rights record. Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has passed annual resolutions criticizing the ongoing impact of the embargo imposed by the United States.
Countries under sanctions:
|Active Sanctions Programs:||Program Last Updated:|
|Countering America’s Adversaries||11/08/2018|
|Central African Republic||12/13/2017|
|Counter Narcotics Trafficking||10/18/2018|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo-Related||11/14/2018|
|Foreign Interference in a United States Election||09/12/2018|
|Rough Diamond Trade Controls||06/18/2018|
|Sudan and Darfur||06/28/2018|
|Transnational Criminal Organizations||10/02/2018|
|Saudi Arabian-Related 2018|
It’s not a good idea to get on the United States’ bad side. As the wealthiest country in the world, the U.S. also lays claim to the world’s most powerful military. But military might is nothing compared to the repercussions that economic sanctions from the U.S. can bring about.
Economic sanctions are a popular way for large governments to exert their disapproval over one another. While wars are costly – both economically and politically – economic sanctions tend to be somewhat less tangible, at least for the country doing the sanctioning. But for the country being sanctioned, the results can be enormous and long lasting. (This instrument of foreign policy and economic pressure is preferred over military action but can still pack a punch. Find out more in The Power Of Economic Sanctions.)
What does a country need to do to attract the ire of the United States? Overwhelmingly, the U.S. sanctions countries that sponsor terrorism or perpetrate human rights violations on their people. Right now, six countries are being sanctioned.
The Southeast Asian nation of Burma – also known as the Union of Myanmar – is one of the countries that the U.S. has placed sanctions on for human rights and political reasons. The country is ruled by a military junta, a committee of military leaders that makes political decisions for the country of 50 million. In charge is Senior General Than Shwe, the head of state who made the number-four spot in Parade Magazine’s 2009 list of World’s Worst Dictators. U.S. sanctions prohibit investment into Burma, restrict the financial resources of the ruling military junta and disallow U.S. imports of Burmese products, as well as U.S. exports of financial services to the country. However, General License No. 14-B allows not-for-profit humanitarian and religious organizations in Burma to receive U.S. funding.
The West African nation Côte d’Ivoire (or the Ivory Coast, in English) is another country that’s being sanctioned by the U.S. government for human rights violations. In the 1970s, Côte d’Ivoire was home to Africa’s strongest economies thanks to booming coffee and cocoa exports, but an economic decline through the 1980s and 1990s brought about social problems that eventually lead to civil war in 1999. The country is still in conflict, with both sides of the fight charged with numerous human rights violations. As a result, U.S. sanctions prohibit trade with people or organizations who provide arms or assistance to Côte d’Ivoire. (Learn the contract specifications for a few of the most heavily traded commodities, in The Sweet Life Of Soft Markets.)
One of the U.S.’s longest-standing and most well known sanctions is against one of our neighbors to the south: Cuba. In February, 1959, Fidel Castro became Prime Minister of Cuba, unseating a post-revolution Cuban government that was favored by the United States (ironically, the previous Batista regime was defeated in part because of a U.S. imposed arms embargo). Since the Cuban dictator took power, the U.S. has had trade embargoes in place as a punishment for impediments to democratic rule. While Americans aren’t generally allowed to trade or travel with Cuban interests, the close geographic proximity (and large Cuban-American population) have ensured that a number of exemptions exist for humanitarian work and visiting relatives. (The tax-free zones in Taking A Look At Tax Havens might sound appealing, but the consequences often aren’t.)
Following the Iranian Revolution, where the Western-friendly Shah of Iran was deposed in favor of a theocratic government, the Iranian Hostage Crisis and other ensuing events pushed the U.S. to levy a trade embargo on the Middle Eastern nation. With increasingly tenuous political relations right now, Iranian economic sanctions continue to be a hotly discussed topic.
North Korea is arguably the country most brutally affected by U.S. economic sanctions. North Korea’s battles with the U.S. started in the 1950s with the United States’ entry into the Korean War – a move designed to counter the USSR’s support for a unified, communist Korea. Today, North and South Korea continue to technically be at war (albeit under a ceasefire since 1953), and the U.S. maintains stringent trade restriction on the country. (Blitzkrieg? Dawn raids? Sounds like the markets and the battlefield have a few things in common! Find out more in War’s Influence On Wall Street.)
As one of the nations that former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton named as “beyond the axis of evil,” Syria has had contentious relations with the United States because of its position as a sponsor of terrorism. As a result, the U.S. has strong trade restrictions on the country, barring major exports as well as financial services for individuals or organizations linked to terror. (The measures in Standard Of Living Vs. Quality Of Life may seem similar, but the reality is an issue of qualitative versus quantitative.)
Why does the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) get to decide?
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department. It administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives. Under Presidential national emergency powers, OFAC carries out its activities against foreign states as well as a variety of other organizations and individuals, like terrorist groups, deemed to be a threat to U.S. national security.
As a component of the U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC operates under the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and is primarily composed of intelligence targeters and lawyers. While many of OFAC’s targets are broadly set by the White House, most individual cases are developed as a result of investigations by OFAC’s Office of Global Targeting (OGT).
Sometimes described as one of the “most powerful yet unknown” government agencies, OFAC was founded in 1950 and has the power to levy significant penalties against entities that defy its directives, including imposing fines, freezing assets, and barring parties from operating in the United States. In 2014, OFAC reached a record $963 million settlement with the French bank BNP Paribas, which was a portion of an $8.9 billion penalty imposed in relation to the case as a whole.
The U.S. does not rule the Earth