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U.S. Sanctions Violate International Law, Imprison Foreign Citizens

May 1, 2021 (EIRNS)—“The United States uses economic sanctions as a weapon,” writes Stansfield Smith in a powerful Grayzone exposé on April 28. They are a weapon of war against civilians, capable of destroying an economy by causing hyperinflation and unemployment, preventing import of necessities, and driving away investment.

According to the United Nations, unilateral U.S. sanctions are illegal, coercive measures. The UN General Assembly has repeatedly called on all countries to neither apply nor recognize unilateral coercive measures. Every year since 1992, the UN has condemned the U.S. blockade of Cuba. The 120 member-states in the Non-Aligned Movement have condemned sanctions on Venezuela.

But Washington ignores international law, by using its financial power to impose and enforce unilateral sanctions against such countries as Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela. In the 1990s, sanctions against Iraq killed nearly a million children through the malnutrition and disease they caused.

The Schiller Institute fought against this by organizing a campaign to work with farmers, dairy producers, and religious leaders to send food aid to Iraq, to overcome malnutrition and to make a powerful political statement about its illegal and immoral cause: sanctions.

In his Grayzone article, Smith describes the cases of three individuals: Alex Saab, a Venezuelan envoy; Mun Chol Myong, a North Korean businessman; and Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive and daughter of that company’s founder.

Venezuela: Saab was en route to Iran, working to secure supplies of food for the government’s social assistance program, when he was arrested during a layover in Cape Verde, due to a U.S. extradition request. He was imprisoned and tortured, and now lives under house arrest. Despite not being in the United States, and not having any dealings with that country, he is charged by it with “money laundering,” by circumventing the financial sanctions imposed on Venezuela. A Swiss investigation of money laundering found no evidence against him. The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in which Cape Verde is a member-state, has declared the detention illegal. The African Bar Association has ruled that he should be set free.

But the Biden administration continues to demand that he be kept under house arrest, pending extradition.

North Korea: On March 20, 2021, a North Korean businessman was extradited to the United States from Malaysia, to stand trial for “money laundering,” “conspiracy,” and supplying goods to North Korea. According to the FBI, Mun Chol Myong caused U.S. banks to process $1.5 million in transactions that violated U.S. sanctions. A North Korean, who has never been in the United States, who has never worked in the United States, and whose conduct did not directly involve the United States, is now in U.S. prison awaiting trial. The assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division salivated: “We hope he will be the first of many.”

China: Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei, was detained in Canada at U.S. request for supposedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s dealings in Iran, causing the bank to violate sanctions. The JCPOA ended all UN-approved sanctions on Iran when the IAEA confirmed that Tehran was in compliance with the agreement. U.S. sanctions are not based on international law. Meng is being used like a hostage, as a bargaining chip in U.S.-China negotiations.

Other banks have violated sanctions, but the banks themselves are charged and fined, not the officials. JPMorgan Chase paid over $80 million in fines in 2011 for violating U.S. sanctions, but Jamie Dimon wasn’t pulled off a plane and whisked into custody.

It is time to end sanctions warfare, to relieve the suffering of such countries as Venezuela, and to save the soul of the United States.

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