On Tuesday, 14 July 2015, the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and the Islamic Republic of Iran agreed to a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to several measures aimed to ensure that its nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful in exchange for the eventual lifting of certain UN Security Council, EU and US sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program. The E3/EU+3 will submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council endorsing the JCPOA and providing for termination of all Security Council resolutions imposing Iranian nuclear sanctions. However, the trade sanctions could be reinstated if Iran violates the agreement – the so called “snapback”. This will be monitored through a unique surveillance regime.
With respect to the US, the JCPOA could potentially lift a wide variety of US secondary sanctions including sanctions on certain financial and banking transactions, such as transactions with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO). Additionally, the JCPOA could allow for limited US trade including the importation into the US of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs. In the EU, all the Iranian nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions will be terminated. This means that all provisions of Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 as amended will be phased out, including the restrictions on transfer of funds; on banking activities; on the provision of insurance and reinsurance; on SWIFT; and on oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.
The lifting of sanctions envisioned in the JCPOA is not immediately effective, but rather will be phased in over time. Additionally, the enforcement of US statutory sanctions implemented due to Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and missile activities will not be affected by the JCPOA. The EU sanctions adopted with respect to human rights violation will also remain in force. Under the JCPOA, the first set of US and EU sanctions will not be lifted until Implementation Day – i.e., the day that the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Iran has implemented key nuclear-related measures described in the JCPOA. This is expected to take approximately six months. Until Implementation Day, the limited sanctions relief adopted previously under the 24 November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) remains in effect. Among other things, the JPOA suspended US sanctions that apply extraterritorially to non-US persons doing business with Iran’s petrochemical and automotive sectors or involving gold and other precious metals, and sanctions against both US and non-US persons for transactions involving civil aviation safety and certain humanitarian activities.