Passed Legislation
Signed on August 2, 2017

Policy Summary

On August 2nd, President Trump signed a bipartisan effort to punish Iran, North Korea, and Russia. It imposes harsh sanctions and also requires the President to submit a report explaining any desire to remove them. Upon receiving this report, Congress would hold hearings and decide whether to allow or reject this proposal. The bill passed the Senate a few months ago (by a vote of 97-1) and originally only targeted Russia and Iran. It stalled in the House over procedure, and after clarifications and the addition of North Korea, it passed on July 25th by a vote of 419-3. With a veto-proof majority in both chambers, the bill will be implemented within the next six months. LEARN MORE.


This sanctions bill is a mixed bag, and it is difficult to determine the efficacy of this legislation before implementation. The sanctions listed in the bill are important, especially those against the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, a paramilitary group in Iran. It is critical to punish Russia and others for their transgressions, and the provision preventing the President from unilaterally overturning the sanctions is essential considering President Trump’s history with the Russians. Yet sanctions alone are not enough to hinder these three nations, especially when they exempt expensive energy projects. North Korea, aided by China, will not feel the effects of additional sanctions, and levying our soft power against these states will only go so far. Additionally, the European Union has threatened to respond if the United States act unilaterally without considering European energy companies. And in typical Trump style, he admonished the bill in a rare signing statement, clearly upset with the restrictions it put on unilateral actions. He was later mocked by Russian Prime Minister Medvedev on Facebook in a move that will definitely perturb the President. If the Trump administration ever clarifies its position against these hostile nations, only then will the world unify against existential threats. LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

  • Current US Sanctions — An extensive list by the Treasury Department of all US sanctions levied against foreign entities.
  • US Sanction Policy — A complicated and technical explanation of sanction policy and guidelines by former Obama WH Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew

This brief was compiled by Jacob Malinowski. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact



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