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China, India, and Turkey are showing signs of not slowing down their oil imports from Iran even though the Trump administration has threatened sanctions on those who continue to import Iranian oil. Global oil prices have risen since the announcement of the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil but major international players continue to seek access to large amounts of oil not available to them in sufficient amounts without the Iranian oil market.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-oil/trumps-sanctions-on-iran-tested-by-oil-thirsty-china-india-idUSKCN1N30GW

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Photo: Twitter/@Nusr-ett

Amidst the public outrage and protests against Salt Bae and Nusr-Et Steakhouse, the meat slicing and salt pouring icon may have inadvertently stumbled into the world of U.S. economic sanctions, which currently target the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. While the U.S. government may investigate and enforce any applicable sanctions violations, these lamb chops also provide an interesting example of how economic sanctions work.

On Monday, Nustret Gökçe, commonly known as Salt Bae, posted a video on his Instagram account showcasing his meat slicing technique as he served President Maduro at a Nusr-Et location in Istanbul. Unbeknownst to Salt Bae, he may have also published evidence of a crime. On July 31, 2017, President Maduro was designated as a Specially Designated National (SDN) by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) under Executive Order 13692, which had declared the rampant corruption and human rights abuses in Venezuela to be a U.S. national emergency. Maduro was designated as an SDN for a number of reasons, including holding illegitimate elections, violating the human rights of voters and protestors, and, most relevant here, allowing tens of millions of Venezuelans to go hungry by “refus[ing] to import sufficient food for the Venezuelan people . . . and reject[ing] offers of humanitarian aid.”

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On August 7, 2018, the U.S. reinstated the first wave of sanctions against Iran as the 90-day wind-down period concluded. The Trump administration reimposed sanctions that prohibit Iran purchasing U.S. banknotes, commercial aircraft, trading gold and metals, and business with Iran’s automotive sector.

The snapback provisions were evoked by President Trump’s May 8, 2018 decision to withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). Under direction from the Administration, federal agencies implemented 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods for activities involving Iran that were consistent with the sanctions relief detailed in the JCPOA.

In addition to the reinstatement of select pre-nuclear deal secondary sanctions, the Administration terminated JCPOA-related authorizations that permitted the importation of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs; the exportation of civilian aircraft to Iran; and activities undertaken pursuant to General License I.