Biden Administration Freezes U.S. Assets of 22 Myanmar Senior Officials, Family Members

President Joe Biden's administration froze U.S. assets of 22 Myanmar senior officials and family members on Friday in issuing sanctions against them.

The action by the Treasury Department prevents seven members of Myanmar's military junta and 15 family members of previously sanctioned officials from U.S. assets or companies owned by them, according to the Associated Press. Also, U.S. citizens can no longer engage in business with the 22 individuals sanctioned.

The sanctions are over the military's harsh crackdown on those protesting against its rule following a February coup where the military seized power of the South Asian nation, also known as Burma.

"The military's suppression of democracy and campaign of brutal violence against the people of Burma are unacceptable," the Treasury Department said in announcing the sanctions. "The United States will continue to impose increasing costs on Burma's military and promote accountability for those responsible for the military coup and ongoing violence, including by targeting sources of revenue for the military and its leaders."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

U.S. President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden's administration froze the assets of 22 Myanmar senior officials and family members of previously sanctioned officials. In this photo, Biden speaks during an event with governors of western states and members of his cabinet Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images

The action of sanctions against Myanmar officials and others was accompanied by the removal of sanctions on three Iranian industrial executives whom the Trump administration penalized for supporting Iran's ballistic missile program.

Among the Myanmar officials targeted are Minister for Information Chit Naing, Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Aung Naing Oo, Minister for Labor, Immigration and Population Myint Kyaing, Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Thet Thet Khine and three members of the State Administrative Council that the military set up after the coup.

Treasury offered no explanation for the lifting of sanctions on the three Iranians, but administration officials have said previous similar removals were based solely on the targets no longer meeting the criteria for the penalties and were unrelated to indirect negotiations on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which that former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

The Iranians—Behzad Daniel Ferdows, Behzad Daniel Ferdows and Mohammed Reza Dezfulian—were sanctioned by the Trump administration in September 2020 for their work with the Mammut Industrial Group and an affiliated company, Mammut Diesel, which Treasury said at the time were "key producers and suppliers of military-grade, dual-use goods for Iran's missile programs."

Also Friday, Treasury issued a final rule revoking Trump-era sanctions against International Criminal Court prosecutors and staff. The rule, which will take effect on July 6 after its publication in the Federal Register, completes President Joe Biden's April 1 revocation of Trump's authorization to impose sanctions on ICC officials involved in war crimes investigations into U.S. citizens.

That authority was the basis for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hitting the now ex-chief ICC prosecutor and a top aide with sanctions. Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken had lifted those sanctions shortly after Biden's announcement and the publication of the final rule is mainly a housekeeping measure.

"Although the United States continues to object to the ICC's assertions of jurisdiction over personnel of such non-States Parties as the United States and its allies absent their consent or referral by the United Nations Security Council, the threat and imposition of financial sanctions against the ICC, its personnel, and those who assist it are not an effective or appropriate strategy for addressing the United States' concerns with the ICC," Treasury said.

Protesters in Myanmar
Protesters holding National League for Democracy (NLD) flags raise three-finger salutes during flash protests against the military coup at Bahan township in Yangon, Myanmar on June 25. Uncredited/AP Photo