President Donald Trump signed on August 2nd, 2017, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, through which the US imposes new sanctions against Iran, Russian Federation and North Korea.
The draft was debated during the last month and initially it contained sanctions only against Iran and the Russian Federation. The draft bill was adopted by the Senate in this form on 15th of July 2017 with 98 votes for and two against. Later on, it was sent to the House of Representatives who added the sanctions against North Korea. The Lower Chamber of Congress adopted the bill with 419 votes for and three votes against, and President Donald Trump signed it on the 2nd of August, moment in which it was ratified. An important provision is that the President needs approval from Congress to raise or ease the sanctions against the Russian Federation.
The Head of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, Ed Royce, declared that the bill represents a strong instrument endorsed by both American parties, which will increase the political and economic advantages of the U.S. In the press release of the White House, President Donald Trump mentioned that these measures are taken to punish the regimes from Tehran and Pyongyang. Moreover, the leader of the White House declared that the U.S.A. will not allow any interference in its democratic process and it will stand with its allies to counteract the Russian Federation’s actions. At the same time, President Trump has criticized the bill because it would infringe the authority of the executive by diminishing its ability to negotiate with other governments.
In the case of Iran, the new sanctions represent a reaction to the development of the ballistic missile program, the support given to some terrorist organizations, the violation of human rights and organized crime. Since May, when the bill passed through the Committee of the Foreign Relation of the US Senate, senator Benjamin L. Cardin declared that Iran is contributing to regional instability and it shows no intention to join the community of responsible states.
In the case of the Russian Federation, the sanctions are motivated by actions taken in Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, but also for its presumed involvement in the U.S. elections held in November 2016. The measures target entities that are making business with the Russian military and intelligence structures, companies involved in offshore projects and those involved in the construction of Russian pipelines on Russian territory. Moreover, the bill targets a big part of the Russian industry already affected by the sanctions imposed in 2014.
Regarding the response from Tehran, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahram Qasemi stated that Iran reserves for itself the right to respond to the new US measures.
The reactions from Kremlin appeared five days after Congress voted the bill, and President Vladimir Putin, on the 30th of July, ordered the reduction of the American diplomatic staff within Russia from 1210, to 455 until the 1st of September 2017. Additionally, the Russian Federation seized two American diplomatic properties located in Russia. Vladimir Putin motivates this measure declaring that he “thought it was the time to show that we’re not going to leave that without an answer.”
Reactions also come from the European Union. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, expressed his concern regarding the new sanctions imposed by the United States. These could affect the European investors who are doing business in Russia, especially those who holds assets in the oil business sector, but also the EU industry of energy. In this context, the European Union reserves the right to undertake a series of measures to protect its interests.