April 5, 2004

OFAC Ruling Confirms Peer Review, Style and Copy Editing Consistent with the Berman Amendment

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Friday issued a ruling to The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Incorporated (IEEE) confirming that OFAC does not regulate the important peer review process, as well as the process of style and copy editing, with respect to scholarly papers submitted by authors in a Sanctioned Country.

In a letter to IEEE, OFAC Director Richard Newcomb states that IEEE can participate in peer review and style and copy editing for purposes of publishing articles from a Sanctioned Country without the need for authorization from OFAC.

“Today’s ruling makes clear that scientific communities in sanctioned countries may publish their works in U.S. scholarly journals,” said Newcomb.  “This process is vital to promoting the free flow of information within the global community of scholarship.”

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) are the principle statues that confer broad authority on the Executive Branch to implement economic sanctions and embargo programs.  However, informational materials from countries subject to IEEPA (e.g: Iran, Libya and Sudan) and TWEA (e.g: Cuba) are exempt from regulation under the Berman Amendment. 

In September 2003, OFAC issued a ruling to the effect that IEEE’s use of peer review and style and copy editing may fall into the category of providing a ‘service’ for a Sanctioned Country, which is prohibited under IEEPA and TWEA if it resulted in substantive or artistic alteration or enhancement to the article by U.S. persons.  OFAC requested additional information of these processes.

After further consultations with IEEE, other members of the publishing community and the U.S. Department of State to develop a more complete understanding of those processes, OFAC clarified that IEEE’s use of peer review and style and copy editing is consistent with the Berman Amendment.

A redacted version of OFAC’s letter to IEEE, which provides the substance of the ruling, will be available at:


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