Oxebridge has filed a formal request with the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) asking it to clarify an interpretation made by the American National Standards Institution (ANSI) justifying participation by Russia in standards bodies.

Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2016, and the subsequent invasion of Ukraine in 2021, ISO and ANSI have been under pressure to honor growing US and international sanctions against Russia, some of which specifically define prohibited activities as including management system consulting work. Both organizations have resisted doing so.

In early 2022, however, ANSI opted to find a justification for its position in support of Russia. On March 8, 2022, ANSI General Counsel Patricia Griffin released a public statement declaring that “Russian experts can participate in the standards development process to the extent meetings and activities are for the development and eventual publication of standards,” thus justifying why ANSI and ISO have refused to oust Russia from committees since the invasions of Crimea and Ukraine by the Putin regime.

The Griffin memo, however, relied on prior guidance provided by OFAC related to Iran standards, and was from 2012, over a decade before the Russian invasions. The OFAC letter from 2012, written by OFAC representative Andrea Gacki, intended to answer an ANSI question on whether US persons working for ANSI could continue to work on ISO committees that might include Iranians.  Gacki cited exemptions to sanctions per section 560.538 of the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), and ruled that US persons would be allowed to work on such committees, provided certain conditions were met.

The OFAC letter had nothing to do with Russia, nor was it intended to give permission for Russians to work on standards committees.

Nevertheless, just two weeks later, ISO Secretary-General Sergio Mujica released a formal ISO declaration justifying why ISO had not ejected Russia from membership, quoting Griffin’s memo from ANSI as his justification:

ISO’s member in the US (ANSI) currently advises that continued participation in international standards development activities involving Russian participants is permitted where the process remains open and shared information is not proprietary or controlled, as explained in their communication.

The timing of the two announcements suggests that ANSI colluded with ISO to develop the justification.

Oxebridge is now requesting a formal update from OFAC, and Gacki has now risen to the role of Director of that office. In a letter submitted to director Gacki, Oxebridge requests OFAC provide clarification and make clear that the 2012 memo on Iran should not be used to justify any potential violations of sanctions against Russia in 2023.

ANSI’s daughter organization, ANAB, had been found accrediting ISO certificates issued to the Russian military corporation Gazprom, which is identified as a specific company listed under US and EU sanctions.

Recently, a Gazprom official was elected to take over an ISO committee on Arctic oil operations. ANSI abstained from voting, but not before praising the Russian Gazprom official.

Oxebridge is also writing to the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which oversees ANSI, to alert its members that ANSI’s positions appear to prioritize Russia over the United States.


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Why we report on these topics

Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.