December 8, 2020

OFAC Clarifies Scope of Iranian Sanctions

OFAC revised guidance on sanctions against the Iranian financial sector.

In two new FAQs, OFAC explained that:

  • the prohibitions under Executive Order 13902 ("EO"), including provisions creating potential exposure to secondary sanctions, generally do not apply to transactions related to the conduct of official business of the United Nations, its agencies and certain other international organizations (FAQ 855); and
  • transactions related to certain legal proceedings, including the defense of individuals in legal actions brought by the Government of Iran, may be authorized under the Iran Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, provided that such transactions do not involve persons designated to OFAC's Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (or "SDN List") in connection with Iran's support for international terrorism and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (FAQ 856).

OFAC updated four FAQs clarifying:

  • that OFAC will not target Iranian manufacturers of medicine and medical devices for sanctions, and noting that U.S. law authorizes the export of humanitarian goods, including medicine and medical devices, to Iran (FAQ 830);

  • OFAC's definition, for purposes of EO 13902, of the "mining," "manufacturing," "textiles" and "financial services" sectors of the Iranian economy (FAQ 831);

  • OFAC's interpretation of the term "significant goods and services" in connection with the threat of secondary sanctions under EO 13902 related to dealings with the aforementioned sectors of the Iranian economy (FAQ 832); and

  • that transactions by non-U.S. persons involving the Iranian financial sector generally are not sanctionable under EO 13902 if they would be permissible if conducted by U.S. persons (FAQ 847).

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