Following the December, 2014 announcement of a major U.S. policy shift towards Cuba, President Obama has formally submitted to Congress the Administration’s intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) designation.
Cuba was listed on the SST roster in 1982 pursuant to three laws:
- Section 6 (j) of the Export Administration Act;
- Section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act; and
- Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act.
Once designated, a country remains on the list until the designation is rescinded. The Administration’s review presented to Congress determined that Cuba had not engaged in terrorist activity in the past six months and relied on assurances that Cuba will not support terrorism in the future. Following a 45-day review period, Cuba will be removed from the SST list unless blocked by a joint resolution of Congress.
Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and South Yemen have all had their previous designations rescinded in this manner, though there has been some movement in Congress to have North Korea re-designated on the SST list. This also follows the March announcement by the Treasury Department that 59 individuals and entities would be removed from the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list under the Kingpin Act. This list, administered by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), designates individuals and companies that are subject to asset blocks and prohibitions from dealings with U.S. persons.
Most importantly, while this does represent another step towards increasing liberalization in U.S. policy towards the island nation, it does not affect the main embargo currently in place. Further action by the relevant agencies including OFAC and the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) will be needed to alter the current status of sanctions and export control restrictions.