State Dept: Govt Shutdown Weakening Iran Sanctions

More Sanctions Expected, But Hard to Enforce

Another day of government shutdowns means another day of officials at various government departments and agencies playing up the “risks” posed by their not being able to spend endless pools of money on assorted programs.

Today, it’s the sanctions against Iran. See, sanctioning Iran doesn’t just keep us from buying things we’d like to get from Iran, costing us in the form of economic inefficiencies, it also costs money to enforce.

State Dept. Under Secretary Wendy Sherman warned that the shutdown had forced the department to scale back its sanction monitoring, and also the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.

Sherman said there was “some time, but we don’t have a lot of time,” before the ability to force Americans to comply with the sanctions starts to be limited, and in the context of Congress hoping to impose yet more sanctions on Iran, that’s a message that may really hit home.

Then again, a lot of the recent sanctions are of limited to no real consequence, as the banking sanctions have more or less ground commerce with Iran to a halt, and even trade explicitly allowed on humanitarian grounds has proven all but impossible these days as banks fear being accused of violations. The sanctions, from a Congressional standpoint, are an end unto themselves, just another way to prove to voters that they’re “tough” on Iran. In that regard, the inability to enforce sanctions probably wouldn’t impact imposing more.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of