WASHINGTON Oct 4 The U.S. government shutdown
is hindering enforcement of sanctions against Iran and Syria
because of worker furloughs at the Treasury Department office
responsible for handling the punitive measures, the White House
said on Friday.
Highlighting one of the damaging effects of the fiscal
standoff to try to pressure Republicans to give ground, White
House spokesman Jay Carney said the shutdown had reduced
staffing at Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control to 11
employees from a normal contingent of 175.
The comments came as the Obama administration's diplomatic
engagement with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has put a
focus on U.S. sanctions, which are widely seen as having damaged
Iran's economy enough to force Tehran back to the negotiating
The White House has sought to cast blame on Republicans for
bringing much of the government to a standstill by seeking to
defund or delay President Barack Obama's healthcare program as a
condition of allowing a vote on spending that would reopen the
government. House of Representatives Republicans accuse Obama of
intransigence and not caring about the shutdown's effects.
Obama was to be briefed by top aides on Friday on the impact
of the four-day-old shutdown, including how furloughs have hurt
the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
"The office is unable to sustain its core functions," Carney
told reporters at the daily White House briefing. "That is a
negative consequence of this wholly unnecessary decision by the
House Republicans to shut down the government."
The office's tasks include "issuing new sanctions
designations against those enabling the governments of Iran and
Syria, as well as terrorist organizations, WMD (weapons of mass
destruction) proliferators, narcotics cartels, and transnational
organized crime groups," Carney said.