MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
After months of public pressure, unproductive diplomacy and deadlines for action that have come and gone, the U.S. is adding to the pressure on Sudan to end the genocide in Darfur.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world.
SIEGEL: President Bush announced new sanctions today against dozens of Sudanese companies and against three people the U.S. blames for the violence. One of those men has already been accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
NORRIS: In four years, the United Nations says more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur. Even in the last few weeks as the U.N. has pressed for action, President Bush says Sudan and its president, Omar Bashir, have been defiant.
Pres. BUSH: The military bombed a meeting of rebel commanders designed to discuss a possible peace deal with the government. In the following weeks, he used his army and government-sponsored militias to attack rebels and civilians in south Darfur. He's taken no steps to disarm these militias in the year since the Darfur peace agreement was signed.
SIEGEL: It will now be illegal for Americans to deal with any of the companies or people on the sanctions list. And the U.S. will seek a new Security Council resolution on Darfur.
NORRIS: Sudan's government criticized the sanctions as unfair and untimely. We'll have a report on world reaction in a few minutes. First, more on the sanctions.
SIEGEL: Andrew Natsios is the administration's special envoy for Sudan. Welcome to the program, Andrew Natsios.
Mr. ANDREW NATSIOS (U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan): Thank you.
SIEGEL: When you were on this program back in September, you're asked at that time how much time you would give what you called aggressive diplomacy. You said, weeks or months. It's certainly to have been many months. Why is the process over Darfur so much slower than you would anticipate it?
Mr. NATSIOS: Well, right now, we have a huge international effort and I've found, while there are many very well-intentioned countries involved in this, there are probably more special envoys for Sudan than any country in history. I think because this has become such an international issue. And coordinating with all of them and trying to get everybody on the same page, saying the same things to the Sudanese government is very complicated, very difficult. And the Sudanese government has specialized, for many years, in dividing and conquering.
They're really negotiating from a position of great weakness, but they know how to play the international community, particularly when there's so many countries involved. And I think that's what's taken so long.
SIEGEL: I like to ask you about the specific sanctions. There are a couple of points about them. First, the individuals - whom the president refers to -sanctions to isolate these persons, he says, by cutting them off from the U.S. financial system and by calling the world's attention to their crimes. The administration has summed up these crimes as genocide. Is President Bush calling for the arrest and trial of those individuals?
Mr. NATSIOS: What he is calling for is pressure on particular individuals, two of them - the head of military intelligence and the state minister for humanitarian affairs. That's a misnomer. That is the position he had, but he orchestrated a lot of the atrocities in 2003 and 2004 in Darfur.
The third person on that list is a leader, is an Islamic fundamentalist rebel leader, Khalil Ibrahim, who had a hand in undoing some of the progress we made last May in the peace agreement in Abuja, and has been stonewalling, in our view, any effort to end this through negotiation. He basically says we want to violently overthrow the Sudanese government and install my party in control. And his party is, in many ways, as bad as the government in Sudan now.
So this is not based on any indictment before the ICC. This is a separate matter. Under U.S. law, there are provisions allowing the president to do this and under an existing executive order.
SIEGEL: And the additional companies that would come under sanction, is there anything qualitatively different about their relationship to the Sudanese government? In the companies already sanctioned, theirs are simply more of the same pressure that they applied.
Mr. NATSIOS: It's more of the same companies. But the big of the whole package, the most significant is the one that's least understood publicly. And that is, that we're going to use new instruments of enforcement through the federal banking system, the Federal Reserve System, that we did not have available to us before. And these are techniques that we've used in North Korea and Iran and against different terrorist network's financing systems. These are instruments that have just been put in place in the last couple of years.
And those will now be used not just for the 30 companies on the list, 31 companies, but for the companies that are already on the list. And these are much more powerful than what we've had in our disposal before. And we think that's going to make a very big difference because it will affect their operations in a profound way.
SIEGEL: And just very briefly, realistically speaking, how long do you think it will be before these sanctions force a real change in what's happening in Darfur.
Mr. NATSIOS: I think, there're two factors here. One is how the Sudanese government reacts to this, still. We will see in the next few days what that is. Two, it depends whether or not other countries decide to join us either through a U.N. resolution or through unilateral sanctions that they impose themselves. I think they will start to get very nervous if any European countries should join us in terms of sanctions.
SIEGEL: Ambassador Natsios, thank you very much to talk to you again.
Mr. NATSIOS: Thank you very much.
SIEGEL: Andrew Natsios is the U.S. special envoy for Sudan.
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