On September 20, 2019, in response to recent attacks on certain Saudi Arabian oil facilities, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) took action pursuant to Executive Order 13224 against three Iranian entities: (i) the National Development Fund of Iran (“NDF”) (ii) Etemad Tejarat Pars Co., and (iii) the Central Bank of Iran (“CBI”). Executive Order 13224 authorizes the designation of parties if, among other things, they attempt to commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.
On June 24, 2019, the President issued Executive Order 13876, “Imposing Sanctions With Respect To Iran” (“EO 13876”), which specifically imposes sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran (currently, Ayatollah Khamenei) and the Supreme Leader’s Office (“SLO”), authorizes the future designation of persons appointed by, or providing support to, the SLO, and designates certain additional senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard (“IRGC”) commanders. While a politically significant and symbolic move, by itself this latest action is unlikely to have much practical impact, except to increase the risk, yet again, of secondary sanctions for non-US parties (particularly financial institutions) that engage in transactions with the targeted parties.
On April 8, 2019, the Trump administration escalated pressure on Iran by announcing its plan to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (“FTO”) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The designation marks the first time the United States has branded a foreign government military entity a terrorist group. In retaliation, Iran designated US forces in the Middle East as a terrorist group.