On January 11, the US Department of State (“State Department”) re-designated Cuba to the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List (“SST List”) for “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists.” Notably, the Trump administration announced the decision shortly before the inauguration of President-elect Biden.
The decision to re-designate Cuba to the SST List reverses a decision made by the Obama administration in 2015, in an effort to improve relations between the US and Cuba. The State Department alleged that “Cuba returns to the SST list following its broken commitment to stop supporting terrorism as a condition of its removal by the previous administration in 2015.”
Currently, there are only three other countries designated to the SST List: Iran, North Korea, and Syria. We discussed the State Department’s recent removal of Sudan from the SST List in our previous post.
The re-designation of Cuba to the SST List subjects Cuba to sanctions that prohibit certain trade with Cuba, restrict US foreign assistance, ban defense exports and sales, and impose certain controls on exports of dual-use items. Given the expansive scope of pre-existing sanctions against Cuba, the decision to re-designate Cuba to the SST List is unlikely to have a practical effect on prohibited transactions for US and non-US persons.
We will continue to monitor developments in this area. Please contact the authors or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contacts for more information.