Daily Israel Report

White House: Sanctions Are Affected by Shutdown

U.S. efforts to pressure Iran, Syria and others are inhibited by the government shutdown, says White House press secretary.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 10/5/2013, 12:28 AM

White House
White House
Flash 90

The Obama administration's efforts to pressure Iran, Syria and others are inhibited by the government shutdown, White House press secretary Jay Carney suggested Friday.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has had to furlough all but 11 of its 175 full-time employees, "meaning that the office is unable to sustain its core functions," Carney said, according to Politico.

President Barack Obama will be briefed on the office's shutdown operations later Friday afternoon, the report said.

Carney’s comments indicate that the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s work, including issuing new sanctions designations against "those enabling the governments of Iran and Syria, as well as terrorist organizations, WMD proliferators, narcotics cartels and transnational organized crime groups" is impeded.

The office also investigates sanctions violations and offers penalties, issuing licenses for humanitarian activities, and issuing new sanctions prohibitions.

At the same time, Carney wouldn't directly say whether the shutdown will affect sanctions against Iran and Syria.

"I'm saying people who are in place normally under normal circumstances have been furloughed," he said. "That is a negative consequence."

"It illustrates the consequences that the Republican shutdown continues to have on the government's missions and workers across the country," Carney added.

Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs, made similar statements Thursday about Iran sanctions.

“Our ability to do that, to enforce sanctions, to stop sanction evaders, is being hampered significantly by the shutdown," she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Still, the administration is doing its best, she said. “Let me assure you that we will continue to vigorously enforce the sanctions that are in place as we explore a negotiated resolution, and will be especially focused on sanctions evasion and efforts by the Iranians to relieve the pressure."

The partial government shutdown was ordered on Tuesday, which marked the start of a new fiscal year and the expiration of fiscal 2013 funds. With little sign of compromise on either side, many fear the shutdown will drag on until the government faces the more dire threat of a possible U.S. default on its debts later this month.

The White House said on Friday it would support legislation that would retroactively pay federal workers who have been furloughed because of the government shutdown.

At the same time, it said, the bill alone “will not address the serious consequences of the funding lapse, nor will a piecemeal approach to appropriations bills.”

In addition to having an impact on the sanctions, the shutdown is also affecting the military aid provided by the U.S. to Israel.

On Thursday, Israel's Minister of Economic Affairs to the U.S., Eli Goner, said that the United States' military aid to Israel is being held up by the shutdown.

"We are not talking about a specific step regarding Israel. There is no budget for most government activities because there is no Budget Act or decision for a continuing resolution for ongoing financing for the coming financial year, and that includes the budget for foreign aid," he said.

On Wednesday, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the " State Department's ability to provide military assistance to Israel and other allies in the time frame that is expected and customary could be hindered, depending on the length of the shutdown.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)