U.S. President Barack Obama has extended a legal act that lists Russia, among 16 other states, as a national threat, and allows for the freezing and confiscation of assets in the United States.
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) is a federal law authorizing the U.S. president to regulate commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to any unusual and extraordinary threat to the United States that stems from a foreign source.
It authorizes the president to block transactions and freeze assets to deal with the threat. In the event of an actual attack on the United States, the president can also confiscate property connected with a country, group, or person that aided in the attack.
Russia, alongside Syria, Iran, North Korea, Belarus and other states, has been subject to IEEPA since 2000 due to its ability to export weapons-grade uranium.
Some analysts believe IEEPA could become a U.S. trump card in the situation around Syria. According to U.S. experts cited by the Vedomosti daily, the violation of trade sanctions introduced by Washington against any one country is also considered a crime.
Such sanctions are currently in place against Iran and Syria, with which Moscow continues to cooperate despite the White House’s recommendations.
The IEEPA falls under the provisions of the National Emergencies Act (NEA), which means that an emergency declared under the act must be renewed annually to remain in effect, and can be terminated by a congressional resolution.