Following US President Trump’s decision not to certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA (see previous blog here), the EU has issued a press release saying it is “committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the JCPOA” and that the US decision is “an internal US process”. The EU encourages the US to “maintain its commitment to the JCPOA and to consider the implications for the security of the US, its partners and the region before taking further steps.” It repeats the need to address concerns related to ballistic missiles and increasing tensions in the region outside the JCPOA, “in the relevant formats and fora”. It further states that “at a time of acute nuclear threat the EU is determined to preserve the JCPOA as a key pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture.”
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) under Executive Order 13224 for its “activities in support of the IRGC-Qods Force… for providing support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban”. OFAC also designated 4 other entities (Shahid Alamolhoda Industries, Rastafann, Ranamoj and Wuhan Sanjiang Import and Export Co Ltd) under EO 13382, which targets WMD proliferators and their supporters, for their support to the IRGC or the Iranian military. For the OFAC press release, click here.
President Trump announced in a speech today that he will not scrap the JCPOA (he wants strict compliance with it) but will not certify that Iran is complying with it, which means that Congress now has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions. The President has unveiled a new “strategy” document on Iran. A joint statement by EU leaders May, Macron & Merkel expresses concern about his decision.
US President Trump must decide by 15 October whether he will certify to Congress that Iran is complying with its obligations set out in the nuclear deal (JCPOA). He has previously certified that it has done so twice before, in April and July 2017. If the President does not certify, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions on Iran.
The US has also indicated that it may designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group. In response, the IRGC Commander warned that, if designated, the military wing would treat US troops, particularly those in the Middle East, as if they were Islamic State terrorists.
The EU’s ambassador to the US has warned President Trump’s administration that the EU is prepared to block US sanctions on Iran if the US pulls out of the JCPOA nuclear deal. Under the EU’s “blocking regulation”, EU-based companies may be prohibited from complying with extraterritorial US sanctions in certain circumstances, effectively giving them legal protection from the sanctions. Since it was introduced in 1996, the highest profile use of the blocking regulation has been to prohibit EU companies from complying with US sanctions on Cuba.
President Trump is due to confirm to Congress whether Iran is complying with its obligations under the JCPOA by 15 October.
President Trump has given his first address to the UN General Assembly, in which he made several comments relating to sanctions. He again criticised the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, describing it as “an embarrassment to the US” and creating further uncertainty about the deal’s future. World leaders have called on President Trump not to undermine the deal, which enjoys near-universal support among UN Member States.
The President also said that he would not lift the US trade embargo on Cuba until Cuba made “fundamental reforms”. In June, President Trump reinstated some of the sanctions on Cuba that were lifted by President Obama (see previous blog), chilling a relationship that had begun to thaw under the previous administration. In addition, he warned that the US was prepared to take further action against the administration of President Maduro of Venezuela, which the US describes as a dictatorship (see previous blog).
The US has extended some of the sanctions relief it granted to Iran under the JCPOA, however a State Department Spokesperson said that the administration was still reviewing its stance on the JCPOA as a whole. In this regard, the Spokesperson said that Iran continued to engage in “reckless, malign” behaviour and was considered dangerous by the administration. The full remarks are available here.
Separately, OFAC has designated Iranian company SABA for assisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in support of the country’s ballistic missile programme, and Ukraine-based Khors Aircompany and Dart Airlines for aiding designated Iranian and Iraqi airlines through the provision of aircraft and services. The details are here.
The US has charged 3 Iranian nationals in Cleveland’s federal District Court with violating US sanctions on Iran. Mohammad Shanevar, Arezoo Alalmdari, and Parisa Mohamadi are accused of shipping millions of dollars’ worth of goods for use in Iran’s energy sector to Iran via third countries, such as Turkey and the UAE. In order to avoid being detected by US authorities, the conspirators allegedly underreported the value of the goods being shipped, gave misleading information as to the end-user destination of the goods, and removed serial numbers from or changed the packaging of goods to hide their origins.