May 29, 2007 — -- President Bush announced this morning that the United States would implement targeted unilateral sanctions against Sudan for its role in the Darfur crisis.
"I promise this to the people of Darfur, the United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world," Bush said in remarks delivered at the White House.
The sanctions are meant to punish the Khartoum government for its unwillingness to allow a peacekeeping force into Darfur, a region the Bush administration says is witnessing genocide.
"For too long the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians," Bush said.
A senior official in the Sudanese Foreign Ministry responded to the sanctions, saying they would not affect Khartoum's decisions regarding the deployment of a peacekeeping force.
"I think these sanctions are not justified. It is not timely," Mutrif Siddig said.
President Omar al-Bashir's government has blocked the deployment of a peacekeeping force it agreed to allow in last fall.
Then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan negotiated a "hybrid" force made of U.N. and African Union peacekeepers. Small initial batches of peacekeepers have already been deployed, but the Sudanese government has denied access to the remaining troops.
Existing economic sanctions on Sudan are to be tightened and expanded by the Treasury Department to cut off 30 Sudanese companies from the U.S. financial system. The sanctions will affect several companies in Sudan's lucrative oil industry, as well as a company accused of arming militias responsible for much of the killing in Darfur.
Bush announced the sanctions five weeks ago in a speech at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., but stopped short of enacting them after a last-minute plea by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for more time to negotiate with Sudan.
"I have made a decision to allow the secretary-general more time to pursue his diplomacy," Bush said at the time. Subsequent talks with Khartoum appear to have yielded no progress.
The sanctions announced today remain largely the same as those announced by Bush last month.
The United States will also ban travel by a Sudanese government official and a military officer blamed for the violence in Darfur. Also targeted for sanctions will be an "obstructionist" rebel leader who is said to have prevented peace efforts. Those three individuals will also have their U.S. dollar assets frozen.
Bush also reiterated his call to draft a U.N. resolution to increase pressure on Bashir's government.
The United States and Britain have been drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would mandate international sanctions on Sudan for stonewalling efforts to end the killing in Darfur.
The resolution goes beyond the United States' unilateral sanctions enacted today, expanding an existing arms embargo. The resolution will also seek asset freezes and travel bans for individuals connected to the violence, beyond the three the United States sanctioned today, as well as Sudanese government-controlled entities.
The resolution is said to include a partial no-fly zone for Darfur, banning offensive military flights over the region. While some groups have called for a no-fly zone as a way to stop the violence, others say such a measure will hamper humanitarian efforts.
The Chinese government, which holds veto power on the Security Council, remains a significant obstacle to the passage of a resolution. China has invested heavily in Sudan's energy sector and has so far resisted efforts to pass U.N. sanctions on Sudan.
China said again today that it was opposed to a U.N. resolution on Sudan. "Expanding sanctions can only make the problem more difficult to resolve," China's African affairs representative Liu Guijin said in Beijing. He did not say whether China would veto such a resolution.