As we previously reported, EU, US and Iranian negotiators agreed an interim deal in Geneva in November 2013 (see earlier blog). Part of that deal was that, starting on 20 January 2014, Iran would start a six-month process of eliminating its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, in exchange for a limited number of international sanctions imposed on Iran (as previously reported) being relaxed.
Accordingly, the EU proposed legislation on 7 January 2014 to suspend parts of its sanctions regime, and this weekend (12 January 2014), negotiators agreed on the details of how the interim deal will be implemented from 20 January.
US secretary of state, John Kerry, said:
“As of that day, for the first time in almost a decade, Iran’s nuclear programme will not be able to advance, and parts of it will be rolled back, while we start negotiating a comprehensive agreement to address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s programme,”
This agreement is the result of weeks of negotiations over the technical implementation of November’s interim deal, and will include the temporary suspension of the following sanctions:
– the prohibition on the provision of insurance and reinsurance and transport for Iranian crude oil,
– the prohibition on the import, purchase or transport of Iranian petrochemical products and on the provision of related services,
– the prohibition on trade in gold and precious metals with the Government of Iran, its public bodies and the Central Bank of Iran, or persons and entities acting on their behalf.
There will also be an increase by tenfold of the authorisation thresholds in relation to the transfers of funds to and from Iran for humanitarian, agricultural and health purposes.
To achieve this, the European Commission and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have proposed legislation to the Council that would amend the EU’s main Iran sanctions regulation. EU Council Joint Proposal of 7 January 2014, once implemented, will amend Articles 11, 13 and 15 of Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 of 23 March 2012 (as amended by Council Regulation (EU) No 1263/2012 of 21 December 2012) and will insert some new provisions.
In addition, for the six months after 20 January 2014, installments totaling $4.2bn of currently frozen Iranian assets will be repatriated to Iran at regular intervals. According to a US official:
“We are basically waiting to make certain that Iran has begun to fulfil its commitments, as verified by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], before the funds are made available to the Iranians“.