Worldwide: New US Sanctions On Iran, Russia, North Korea: Trump Signs Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

On August 2, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed a wide-ranging piece of legislation, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which expands existing sanctions and imposes new ones on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The law had been overwhelmingly approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in recent days, and President Trump signed it despite his disagreement with many of its aspects. Given the breadth of the legislation, companies should closely examine its provisions for possible impacts on their business.


The law's most controversial measures—and those to which the Trump administration objected most strenuously—concern sanctions on Russia. In addition to affirmatively imposing new sanctions regarding Russia, the law also limits the President's ability to remove or modify existing sanctions. It codifies the executive orders that have been issued regarding Russian hacking and those surrounding Russia's activities in Crimea. It also requires the President, before terminating or waiving Russian sanctions, to submit a report to relevant congressional committees. Before the President could take the action, Congress would have 30 days to review it. During this time, Congress could pass a resolution of disapproval, which would prohibit the President from lifting or modifying sanctions—a provision which will significantly tie his hands. Indeed, President Trump specifically pointed to these sections in calling the legislation "significantly flawed" in a signing statement.1

The legislation takes several steps to strengthen existing sectoral sanctions on Russia and to limit Western investment in Russia. Specifically, it modifies Executive Order 13662 ("EO 13662") to allow—though not require—the secretary of the Treasury to block the US property of state-owned entities operating in the railway, metal, or mining sectors of the Russian economy. It also tightens timing provisions in the directives issued pursuant to that executive order to allow fewer transactions by US Persons with Russian entities. For example, the maximum time of maturity for transactions and dealings in new debt that may be conducted by US Persons with sanctioned entities in the financial services sector (those listed pursuant to Directive 1 under EO 13662) is shortened to 14 days. Similarly, the maximum time of maturity for similar transactions by US Persons with sanctioned entities in the energy sector (those listed pursuant to Directive 2 of EO 13662) is shortened to 60 days. With respect to Directive 4, which pertains to advanced energy projects, the law entirely prevents US Persons from providing, exporting, or re-exporting goods, services, or technology in support of deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects that have the potential to produce oil and in which Russian entities have at least a 33 percent interest. These provisions were particularly controversial in early versions of the law, and the 33 percent figure represents a compromise that was reached in response to pressure from Western energy companies against a proposed complete ban on their involvement in such projects. The law also modifies the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 to make sanctions on persons who make significant investments in Russian crude oil projects mandatory; the President must choose three sanctions from a menu of nine options.

The law also requires sanctioning persons determined to have engaged knowingly in significant transactions with the Russian government's defense or intelligence sectors; the President must choose five sanctions from a menu of 12 options. It provides the President with discretion to impose sanctions on both US and non-US Persons who knowingly make investments or provide services, information, technology, or support worth $1 million or more (or $5 million or more in a 12-month period) for the construction of Russian energy export pipelines. This provision of the law was particularly controversial among European allies, which objected to the penalties it might impose on pipelines that bring Russian gas supplies to the European Union, including the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Indeed, the law's language was modified from earlier versions to specify that the President may impose these sanctions "in coordination with allies."

The law also imposes sanctions, including possibly Specially Designated National (SDN) designations, on persons who engage in Russian government-sponsored hacking, as well as financial institutions that facilitate certain Russian defense- and energy-related transactions or transactions for SDNs. It also requires that Russian individuals responsible for corruption and of foreign sanctions evaders be designated as SDNs.

Additionally, the law requires SDN designations of foreign persons responsible for human rights abuses in Russian territory, as well as on those who support these persons. It requires sanctions on all persons who make investments of more than $10 million to privatize Russian state-owned assets; the President must choose five sanctions from a menu of 12 options. Foreign persons who transfer arms to Syria or provide Syria with significant financial, material, or technological support must be designated as SDNs.


The law's sanctions on Iran center on the country's ballistic missile program. The legislation has no effect on the suspension of nuclear-related sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In fact, the Trump administration certified that Iran was complying with that agreement just a few weeks ago.

Specifically, the law requires the President to designate as SDNs foreign persons determined knowingly to have engaged in activities that materially contribute to the Iranian government's ballistic missile program as well as those who knowingly provide support to these persons.

The law adds to the penalties already faced by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and sanctions persons responsible for human rights abuses in Iran. It requires SDN designations of persons who knowingly engage in activity that contributes to arms transfers to or from Iran.

North Korea

Finally, the law imposes sanctions on North Korea. These sanctions are designed to further isolate North Korea, especially following the country's recent missile tests. The law provides for various sanctions to be imposed on persons who import or export defense articles to or from North Korea as well as those who acquire certain precious metals from North Korea, transfer significant amounts of jet or rocket fuel, provide fuel or supplies for designated vessels or aircraft, maintain insurance or registration for North Korean government-owned vessels, or maintain correspondent accounts with North Korean financial institutions.

It provides for similar, but not mandatory, penalties on persons who knowingly acquire significant amounts of coal or iron from the government of North Korea as well as those who transfer cash, metals, or gemstones to the government; provide or transfer oil or gas products; facilitate the government's online commercial activities; acquire significant amounts of North Korean food or agricultural products; knowingly conduct significant transactions in North Korea's transportation, mining, energy, or financial services industries; or facilitate the operation of North Korean financial institutions.

The law also prevents the United States from providing assistance to foreign governments that provide or receive defense articles from the government of North Korea. It would also prohibit vessels owned or operated on behalf of North Korean persons from entering the United States or transferring cargo in the United States. Additionally, the law sanctions foreign persons employing North Korean laborers.

Recommendations for Companies

The new legislation is the amalgam of a number of sanctions laws that Congress was considering. It touches on a great number of industries, affirmatively imposing penalties on some while providing the administration with substantial leeway in sanctioning others. Even if companies do not primarily operate in the sectors that the law specifically targets, they would do well to closely examine the law's provisions to ensure they are compliant.



Learn more about our Government Relations & Public Law and International Trade practices.

Visit us at

Mayer Brown is a global legal services provider comprising legal practices that are separate entities (the "Mayer Brown Practices"). The Mayer Brown Practices are: Mayer Brown LLP and Mayer Brown Europe – Brussels LLP, both limited liability partnerships established in Illinois USA; Mayer Brown International LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales (authorized and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and registered in England and Wales number OC 303359); Mayer Brown, a SELAS established in France; Mayer Brown JSM, a Hong Kong partnership and its associated entities in Asia; and Tauil & Chequer Advogados, a Brazilian law partnership with which Mayer Brown is associated. "Mayer Brown" and the Mayer Brown logo are the trademarks of the Mayer Brown Practices in their respective jurisdictions.

© Copyright 2017. The Mayer Brown Practices. All rights reserved.

This Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions