Leading the frontline on all-government sanctions

Members of the Office of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation pose for a picture. Photo by Lisa Marshall
Members of the Office of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation pose for a picture. Photo by Lisa Marshall

By Tarek M. Fahmy

The economic pressure campaign against the Iranian regime, nuclear weapons in North Korea, ruthless dictators in Venezuela, human rights violators in South Sudan and corruption in Russia are some of the issues that the Office of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation (SPI) tackles every day. As Economic and Business Affairs Assistant Secretary Manisha Singh recently said, “sanctions are a central component of our strategies … to shape the behavior of rogue regimes and malicious global actors.” SPI is a leader in the all-government sanctions effort, which works to provide guidance, analysis and policy recommendations for more than 25 sanctions programs.

The SPI team works with its affiliate team in the Office of Threat Finance Countermeasures, both led by Deputy Assistant Secretary David Peyman, to ensure that all U.S. government equities are considered before a sanctions recommendation is made to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. To ensure sanctions are implemented consistent with U.S. foreign policy objectives, SPI provides the Department’s foreign policy determination to the Department of the Treasury, before any targets are designated or licenses are issued. Annually, SPI works on hundreds of sanctions targets and more than 7,000 licenses to hold adversaries accountable, while continuing to protect U.S. businesses and vulnerable populations in some of the most difficult places on earth.

SPI builds global coalitions to support U.S. sanctions and engages with the private sector to ensure companies act consistently with U.S. policy. Since President Donald J. Trump announced the United States’ intent to cease participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May of 2018, SPI has helped to develop more sanctions and continues to engage with partners and the private sector. 

The world is increasingly connected to the U.S. market, requiring businesses in countries not subject to sanctions, and their host governments, to address sanctions concerns. SPI is the Department’s trusted partner to provide such guidance. At the same time, SPI helps ensure that any sanctions against a country take into account consequences to U.S. interests around the world.

Tarek M. Fahmy is an acting director in the Office of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation. 

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