Future of the Iran nuclear deal: How much can US pressure isolate Iran?

25-05-2018

In July 2015, Iran and the E3/EU+3 – France, Germany, the UK and the EU plus China, Russia and the USA – signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a landmark agreement to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for the termination of restrictive measures against Iran. Following certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had complied with its nuclear dismantlement commitments, implementation of the JCPOA commenced on 16 January 2016. On that day, known as Implementation Day, all nuclear-related UN, US and EU sanctions on Iran were lifted. President Trump, who took office in January 2017, has consistently called the JCPOA 'a terrible deal'. In January 2018, he announced that the US would cease implementing the JCPOA in May 2018 unless Congress and US allies successfully addressed what he called the agreement's 'disastrous flaws'. During the short period given by President Trump, the US worked with EU allies on a 'supplemental agreement', to address the perceived weaknesses of the JCPOA. However, sufficient common ground could not be reached and on 8 May, President Trump announced that the US was leaving the nuclear deal with Iran and would (re)-impose sanctions. These block American firms from doing business in Iran, and bar foreign firms that do business with Iran from accessing the entire US banking and financial system. In addition, companies that violate the sanctions risk huge fines. The E3/EU have repeatedly stressed their support for the continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA by all sides, pointing to the fact that it imposes very tough nuclear inspections and that the IAEA has confirmed 10 times that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the agreement. Russia and China have likewise expressed their unwavering support for the agreement. Iran has given the EU 60 days to ensure the continued implementation of the JCPOA, in particular its trade and economic aspects. The US has threatened to impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business in Iran, but also signalled willingness to continue working on a 'supplemental agreement'.

In July 2015, Iran and the E3/EU+3 – France, Germany, the UK and the EU plus China, Russia and the USA – signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a landmark agreement to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for the termination of restrictive measures against Iran. Following certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had complied with its nuclear dismantlement commitments, implementation of the JCPOA commenced on 16 January 2016. On that day, known as Implementation Day, all nuclear-related UN, US and EU sanctions on Iran were lifted. President Trump, who took office in January 2017, has consistently called the JCPOA 'a terrible deal'. In January 2018, he announced that the US would cease implementing the JCPOA in May 2018 unless Congress and US allies successfully addressed what he called the agreement's 'disastrous flaws'. During the short period given by President Trump, the US worked with EU allies on a 'supplemental agreement', to address the perceived weaknesses of the JCPOA. However, sufficient common ground could not be reached and on 8 May, President Trump announced that the US was leaving the nuclear deal with Iran and would (re)-impose sanctions. These block American firms from doing business in Iran, and bar foreign firms that do business with Iran from accessing the entire US banking and financial system. In addition, companies that violate the sanctions risk huge fines. The E3/EU have repeatedly stressed their support for the continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA by all sides, pointing to the fact that it imposes very tough nuclear inspections and that the IAEA has confirmed 10 times that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the agreement. Russia and China have likewise expressed their unwavering support for the agreement. Iran has given the EU 60 days to ensure the continued implementation of the JCPOA, in particular its trade and economic aspects. The US has threatened to impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business in Iran, but also signalled willingness to continue working on a 'supplemental agreement'.