Shutdown: US Can't Enforce Iran Sanctions

Attempts to force Iran to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons are put at risk, as State Dept says it can't enforce sanctions.

Adam Ross ,

Capitol Hill, Washington DC
Capitol Hill, Washington DC

Crippling sanctions that have placed Iran in a stranglehold are no longer able to be enforced - due to the shutdown of the US Federal Government. 

The partial shutdown – the first in the U.S. in 17 years – began this week as part of a standoff over healthcare reforms. Republicans in Congress are insisting on significant changes to a health care law backed by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman told the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, Thursday, that a lack of funding and manpower were curbing the work of the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control, responsible for enforcing and monitoring sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Sherman said the department's ability to oversee sanctions on countries such as Iran and Syria, have been "completely, virtually, utterly depleted." 

Following recent Iranian attempts to seek a rapprochement with US, Sherman told the Senate, the State Department had held out the possibility of giving Iran some short-term sanctions relief - in return for concrete steps to slow uranium enrichment - and shed light on its nuclear program, but she added the shutdown had infringed the work of its intelligence gathering agencies which meant it was had become near impossible to monitor any possible violation of sanctions.

She urged republicans and democrats to find a way to end the federal shutdown saying it threatened the State Department's ability to capitalize on sanctions to end Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Earlier Thursday, US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf also confirmed that due to the shutdown, aid to Israel and other US allies would not be transferred on time.