Shutdown hits unit overseeing sanctions on Iran
Many of those who work at the Treasury Department enforcing sanctions on Iran have been furloughed.
October 3rd, 2013
11:24 AM ET

Shutdown hits unit overseeing sanctions on Iran

By Jamie Crawford

As the Obama administration tests the sincerity of Iran's recent diplomatic outreach, many of the people charged with keeping up pressure on the regime are off the job, having been furloughed in the current government shutdown.

A spokesperson from the Treasury Department told CNN the department had to furlough "nearly all its staff" at the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees enforcement of U.S. sanctions.

As a result of the furloughs, the department is currently unable to sustain its core functions of issuing new sanctions against individuals and entities deemed to be assisting the governments of Iran or Syria, as well as terrorist organizations, narcotics cartels, or proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

The current sanctions regime directed at Iran over its disputed nuclear program has significantly weakened the Iranian economy, and is believed to be the main impetus behind the outreach by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

In addition to the furloughs at OFAC, other units within the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence also are working on just a "skeleton crew" the spokesperson said, naming the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

"This massively reduced staffing not only impairs OFAC's ability to execute its mission," the spokesperson said in a written statement, "it also undermines TFI's broader efforts to combat money laundering and illicit finance, protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system, and disrupt the financial underpinnings of our adversaries."

Analysts who closely follow the current sanctions on Iran, say the current impasse in Washington comes at a dangerous time.

"At a time where sanctions pressure is the only instrument of U.S. policy that is actually working to persuade the Iranian regime to negotiate over its illicit nuclear program, the Treasury furloughs could not be timed worse," said Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

"With hyper-partisan politics sidelining Treasury's G-Men, Iran's Supreme Leader is getting his sanctions relief without giving up any nuclear concessions," he said.

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Filed under: Iran • Sanctions • Treasury
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  23. George patton

    This could be a very good piece of news. Anything that interferes with the ugly and heinous politics of hunger on our part always is!!!

    October 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • ShiverMeTimbers

      I agree. I wonder if Madeline Allbright sleeps soundly at night. That witch did not blink once upon hearing that 500,000 Iraqi children had died because of the sanctions.

      October 4, 2013 at 7:27 am | Reply
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        You nailed it good, ShiverMeTimbers! Madeline Albright is 99.99% pure evil and that's all these is to it. This witch needs to be indicted and tried at the I.C.C. for causing all those unnecessary and cruel deaths. Then again, there are far too many war criminals in our current government and that sorely needs to change!

        October 4, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  24. Random

    Oh look republicans doing what they can to enable Iran to get nukes. Can we drag them out of congress and shot them already?

    October 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Reply
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      Start with the texas one , then bohner. Guaranteed to solve the make believe crisis. It really is that simple people.

      October 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    • ShiverMeTimbers

      Israel has 200+ nukes. I do not hear you complaining about them!

      October 4, 2013 at 7:21 am | Reply
  25. Rob

    This is a bogus story. It says that no "new" sanctions can be put in place. So no Iran isn't getting sanctions relief, the existing pressure is still there.

    October 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply
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  27. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
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    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
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    October 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
    • Cliff C.

      You must work for the Iranian intelligence service. My guess is that you're in the organization responsible for spreading negative propaganda, disinformation, and misinformation. My guess is based on a number of things noted in your post.

      First, you post under the name "John Smith," a common enough English name. Second, this is at least the second time I've read this post in this segment of CNN, word-for-word; in both cases it was off-topic and top-heavy with the rhetoric of hate. Third, the grammar, such as it is, betrays a writer for whom English is a foreign language. Fourth, although some 'facts' are presented, the language used is so loaded with negative emotional content as to render them useless as a means to reach a reasoned conclusion save one–that the author hates America. Fifth–and I'm saying this for the SECOND time–we aren't the first nation to shoot down an airliner filled with innocent civilians; we're the second. Iran's former allies, the Soviet Union, was first, back in 1984. I know, because I happened to be in South Korea at the time. The aircraft was a Boeing 747 owned by Korean Airlines–now known to history as KAL Flight 007, which had mistakenly strayed into Soviet-controlled airspace, was confused with a much-smaller U.S. intelligence-gathering plane flying in international airspace some distance away. Sixth, on examination, it is apparent that all the other supposed facts you present are also flawed in one way or another in a deliberate attempt to confuse, mislead, or misinform the reader.

      Nice try, though.

      October 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
      • George patton

        Wrong, Cliff C. The Korean airline flight 007 did not mistakenly stray into Soviet territory on Sept. 1, 1983. It flew in there foe a purpose. What we don't know and most probably never will is exactly why or what purpose that the Pentagon had on mind. On the other hand, it could have been simply just another ploy to discredit the U.S.S.R. and nothing more. Either way, it played quite handsomely into Reagan's propaganda agenda!!!

        October 3, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
      • ShiverMeTimbers

        I do not think that the air liner strayed into Russian air space by mistake. The pilots warned the air liner several times before launching their missiles. Also, you are forgetting that one of our destroyers shot down an Iranian air liner flying over the gulf. Why aren't you complaining about that tragic mistake? The ship's captain was never charged with any wrong doing. The poor Iranian bodies were floating on the ocean like flotsam.

        October 4, 2013 at 7:25 am |

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