State Department Rescinds Cuba Designation as State Sponsor of Terrorism

May 29, 2015

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of State announced that it rescinded Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. In accordance with statutory criteria for rescission, the president had previously certified to Congress that the government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six-month period and has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future. 
Although rescission of the designation has no immediate effect on Cuba-related sanctions administered by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, it does allow for the easing of other restrictions related to the provision of foreign assistance to the government of Cuba and the export of munitions, goods and technology to Cuba. In its announcement, however, the Department of State made clear that “the United States [still] has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions,” although these concerns “fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.”  Nonetheless, rescission of the designation is likely to facilitate normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.
Cuba had been designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism since 1982. Currently, there are three countries—Iran, Sudan and Syria—that are designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism.