Key Contact



Afghanistan has been under sanctions by the UN since 1999. Sanctions were originally imposed to prevent the Taliban and Al-Qaeda from conducting acts of international terrorism following the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. The sanctions include an arms embargo, asset freezes and restriction on admission of designated Afghan individuals. In 2011, the UN split its sanctions programme in two: one targeting Al-Qaeda, and another targeting Afghanistan, in an effort to prompt the Taliban to join the political reconciliation process in Afghanistan.



China is currently under an arms embargo by the EU, imposed following its crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. In reality, the embargo has little effect, as China is free to import weapons from countries such as Russia.

Though China is not directly sanctioned by either the UN or the US, its ties to countries such as Russia and North Korea have increased its exposure to international sanctions. For example, there are 150 Chinese entities sanctioned by The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is unusually high for an individual country. In September 2018, the US imposed sanctions on the Chinese military for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, and in November, a congressional committee in the US recommended that Congress provide OFAC with a list of companies and officials that should be sanctioned because of their ties to North Korea’s nuclear weapon programmes.



Myanmar has been subject to intermittent international sanctions since 1990. The EU first adopted sanctions, including an arms embargo, after Myanmar’s then military junta refused to accept the results of the country’s 1990 elections. The EU lifted all non-military sanctions in April 2013, when Aung San Suu Kyi was elected as state counsellor and initiated democratic reforms. Embargos on arms and military equipment will remain in place until April 2019.

The US did not introduce sanctions on Myanmar until 2003, in response to concerns regarding human rights abuses and the military’s influence on politics and the country’s economy. These sanctions were lifted in 2016 after a diplomatic visit from Aung San Suu Kyi to the US. In 2018, the EU and US imposed targeted sanctions on dozens of Burmese military or Border Guard Police commanders for their involvement in the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.


North Korea

North Korea is under heavy sanctions from the EU, UN and US due to its ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities. The first set of sanctions was introduced by the UN Security Council in 2006 following North Korea’s first nuclear test. The latest round of UN sanctions, passed in December 2017, includes restrictions on trade in and out of North Korea, such as the export of aviation fuel, arms and refined petroleum products, imports of coal, iron, seafood, and financial and economic restrictions against North Korean banks and workers.

The US imposed similar sanctions on North Korea, most recently renewed in September 2017 following North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Although Kim Jong-un and President Trump have now met twice during the latter’s presidency, President Trump has stated that sanctions on North Korea will remain in place.