Jason Waite, partner in the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice and International Trade & Regulatory Groups, was quoted in a Law360 article discussing the Obama administration’s recent negotiations with Iran and how even though there have been hints that it might ease some sanctions if Iran addresses international concerns over its nuclear program, the relief would likely be limited if the United States offers any at all.
Waite said he couldn't imagine the U.S. would take any drastic steps in the near future.
“I certainly don't think it's very likely that any portion of the sanctions are going to be lifted any time soon,” he said.
Waite did say that, far from a dismantling of the sanctions regime the U.S. has in place, one type of relief Iran might see is a release of some of its frozen assets for specific purposes, or licenses that would allow trade of “individual commodities that are seen as innocuous from a national security perspective.”
According to Waite, a release of some frozen Iranian assets may be palatable in the U.S. because it wouldn't do anything to alter the existing architecture of the sanctions program—which, among other restrictions, blocks most trade and financial dealings between the U.S. and Iran— and because the U.S. could place conditions on the release of those assets. But he was also quick to point out that even that sort of limited relief is probably a long way off.
“I still think there's a lot of opposition in Congress. I still think that the administration is far away from implementing that,” he said.
Although the existing program gives the Obama administration some discretion over how to apply sanctions, Congress has in the recent past approved legislation that tightened sanctions against Iran, Waite said.
“When it comes to the bigger picture, there doesn't seem to be any appetite for lifting ... the sanctions regime,” he said. “The pendulum is still swinging toward more sanctions.”