USA pulls out of Iran nuclear deal & will re-impose sanctions


President Trump has announced today that the USA is pulling out of the JCPOA. Speech here, Presidential memorandum here, White House fact sheet here, and press briefing here. The factsheet says that:

  • The JCPOA “failed to protect America’s national security interests” and “enabled” Iran’s “malign behaviour”.  Pulling out will “pressure the Iranian regime to alter its course of malign activities” (which are listed in the statement).
  • The US will re-impose sanctions on Iran – the President has directed his administration to begin this process now. The re-imposed sanctions will target (inter alia) Iran’s energy, petrochemical and financial sectors.
  • Those doing business in Iran will have a period of time “to allow them to wind down operations in or business involving Iran”. Those who fail to do so by the end of the period will risk “severe consequences”. There will be 90 day and 180 day wind-down periods for activities involving Iran, given effect by statutory sanctions waivers for those periods.
  • OFAC has published additional frequently asked questions (FAQs) which provide guidance on the sanctions that are to be re-imposed and the relevant wind-down periods.
  • Treasury Department guidance here which states that as soon as is “administratively feasible”, OFAC “expects to revoke, or amend, as appropriate, general and specific licenses issued in connection with the JCPOA. At that time, OFAC will issue new authorizations to allow the wind down of transactions and activities that were authorized pursuant to the revoked or amended general and specific licenses. At the end of the 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods, the applicable sanctions will come back into full effect.”

The EU has said (in a statement by Frederica Mogherini) that the EU regrets the US withdrawal (“should the US reconsider this position, we would welcome it”) but that the JCPOA remains intact, the EU is “determined to preserve it”, and for as long as Iran continues to implement its commitments “as it is doing so far”, the EU remains committed to its implementation including lifting nuclear sanctions. The statement ends with a “message to the Iranian citizens and leaders. Do not let anyone dismantle this agreement”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have issued a joint statement emphasising their “continu[ed] commitment to the JCPOA”. In particular, that they (the E3) will “remain parties to the JCPOA” and shall “work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure [that the agreement is upheld]”. Russia has said that it is “open to further cooperation with the other JCPOA participants”, see here.

President Rouhani of Iran has said the JCPOA could survive if other negotiating partners do not follow the USA, but that if the deal collapses, he will instruct Iran’s atomic energy agency to restart enrichment of uranium at an industrial level.

This entry was posted in Iran, USA by Maya Lester QC. Bookmark the permalink.

About Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC has a wide ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, human rights & civil liberties. She has a particular expertise in sanctions. As the most recent (2016) Chambers & Partners directory put it, she "owns the world of sanctions". She spent 2011-12 in New York at Columbia Law School lecturing and writing on sanctions. She represents and advises hundreds of companies and individuals before the European and English courts and has acted in most of the leading cases, including Kadi, Tay Za, Central Bank of Iran, NITC and IRISL.

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