The White House this week banned senior Iranian and Venezuelan officials from visiting the United States as part of the latest round of sanctions.
The sanctions were imposed hours after a failed attempt at diplomacy with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, following the imposition of sanctions against Chinese firms “knowingly engaging” in the transportation of Iranian oil.
A statement by the White House read:
The Government of Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including its Qods Force, supports terrorists and directly engages in terrorism. Iran arbitrarily detains United States citizens. The Iranian regime contributes to humanitarian crises, threatens its neighbors, threatens international shipping, and conducts destructive cyberattacks.
Given that this behavior threatens peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond, I have determined that it is in the interest of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of senior government officials of Iran, and their immediate family members.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the U.S. intended to reduce tensions after Washington and its European allies blamed Tehran for the attacks against oil fields in Saudi Arabia this month.
“We want peace and we want a peaceful resolution,” Pompeo said at a news conference on Wednesday. “In the end, it will be up to the Iranians to make that decision whether they choose violence and hate.”
Similar sanctions were imposed against senior socialist officials in Venezuela. The White House declared:
There remains a political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela due to the continued failure of Nicolas Maduro, Maduro regime officials, and others to support the rule of law.
Given the importance to the United States of fostering the functioning of constitutional government and democratic institutions in Venezuela, I have determined that it is in the interest of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of senior members of the regime of Nicolas Maduro and others described in this proclamation who formulate, implement, or benefit from policies or actions that undermine or injure Venezuela’s democratic institutions or impede the restoration of constitutional government to Venezuela.
This suspension is not intended to apply to those who cease these actions and who take concrete steps to help return Venezuela to a functioning, democratic country.
Previous rounds of sanctions against the Maduro regime have also targeted the U.S.-based assets of Maduro and other senior officials while banning any American citizen from dealing with such figures in any official capacity. Other sanctions have also targeted the state-run industries with the aim of reducing the regime’s access to financial resources.
Other Latin American leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia all rounded on Maduro during the U.N. General Assembly this week, calling on the international community to help find a solution to the country’s political, economic, and humanitarian crisis. The situation has led to the continent’s most serious migration crisis, with four million migrants fleeing to nearby countries to escape the crisis in their homeland.