Iran - EP 6

Duration: 16-Jan-2016 to Present

On 18 October 2015, ninety days after UNSCR 2231 (which incorporated and endorsed the JCPOA), the agreement came into effect and established a timeline for the resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue. On 16 January 2016 the IAEA confirmed in a report to the Council that Iran was in compliance with nuclear-related commitments outlined in the agreement, terminating the provisions of previous sanctions resolutions and substituting them with restrictions outlined in Annex B of the JCPOA.

The entry into force of Annex B of the JCPOA on 16 January 2016 placed the Iran sanctions regime in a state of calculated ambiguity, in which a set of euphemisms are used to replace sanctions-related terminology. While sanctions under Chapter VII were lifted, “restrictions” with equal effect were established under “Article 41” (under Chapter VII of the Charter). The Sanctions Committee was dismantled and replaced by a UNSCR 2231 “Facilitator” and the role of the PoE was taken over by the Secretariat which hired additional personnel to cover the monitoring of the Iran agreement.

This ambiguity, a response to Iran’s demands for diplomatic normalization, contributed to creating an atmosphere conducive to the implementation of the JCPOA, but also complicated the actual enforcement of the measures. The lack of clarity affects private sector implementation and maintains uncertainty about investing in Iran – possibly diminishing returns for Iran and complicating the implementation of the JCPOA in the future.

Since January 2016, the IAEA has reported to the Security Council 11 times that Iran has been in compliance with its nuclear-related obligations under the JCPOA. It has repeatedly verified the absence of non-declared nuclear material, the non-diversion of the materials declared, and the provisional application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Additional Protocol, as well as other transparency measures agreed upon. Despite its compliance, Iran reiterated its view that it “has not been able to fully benefit from lifting of Sanctions due to a series of deficiencies and/or non-performance on the part of either U.S. or the EU.”

As the Secretary-General stated, however, the JCPOA is only one part of UNSCR 2231 (2015), and there have been concerns over Iran’s alleged violation of the restrictive measures described in the resolution’s annex B. First, Iran has conducted medium-range ballistic missile tests. While there is a controversy within the UNSC as to whether this violates the JCPOA (Iran argues the missile was not designed to carry a nuclear warhead, others say it could be easily adapted), the resolution (and subsequent SG reports) called upon Iran to avoid ballistic missile launches. Second, weapons of Iranian origin and/orshipped from Iran were seized in or on their way to Syria and Yemen, in a clear violation of the arms export embargo.

From a technical standpoint, the implementation of the UNSCR 2231 and the JCPOA, with its Joint Commission and procurement channel for nuclear materials, has been appropriate. Between Implementation Day (16 January 2016) and June 2018, 37 proposals were submitted to the special procurement channel, with 24 being approved, 3 disapproved, 7 withdrawn, and 3 remaining under review.

The greatest challenge to the implementation of the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231 has been political. With the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016, the prospects for a smooth implementation of the agreement were severely compromised. On 8 May 2018, the United States announced its withdrawal from the JCPOA citing Iran’s involvement in armed conflicts in the region, a decision the Secretary General “deeply regret[ted].” However, the United States chose not to initiate the so-called sanctions “snapback” mechanism in the JCPOA, preferring to simply withdraw from the agreement unilaterally. This was possibly motivated by a choice to avoid the lengthy dispute-settlement mechanism necessary for the re-imposition of UN sanctions. In response to the US unilateral withdrawal, the other parties pledged to continue to abide by the agreement. In the current climate of uncertainty, the effectiveness of the agreement remains threatened by the re-imposition of US unilateral sanctions and the subsequent threat of US secondary sanctions on those who engage in business relations with Iran.


Coerce

N/A.

Constrain

Constrain Iran’s access to sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and missile programs, and from supporting armed groups in the region.

Signal

Signal a relative normalization in relations with Iran on the nuclear issue.


Mandatory

Adjustments to ongoing sanctions:
  • Newly re-imposed individual / entity asset freeze, travel ban, and arms exports embargo from Iran.
  • Restrictions on proliferation sensitive goods and technology imports and exports ban (specific items and the related transfer, training, assistance, investment, brokering, and other services, including nuclear weapon delivery systems restrictions), investment and acquisition of interest in foreign commercial activity involving uranium mining or nuclear material and technology, and arms imports to Iran (specific weapons and related training, services, advice, and assistance) made subject to prior case-by-case Security Council approval (exemptions and the related procedures specified).
Termination of existing sanctions:
  • All provisions of UNSCR 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, 1929, and 2224 terminated;
  • A “snapback” mechanism for their reintroduction specified.

Conditional

Previously imposed conditional restrictions (bunkering ban) were terminated.


Sanctions were imposed for a limited time period. Proliferation sensitive goods and technology and investment ban restrictions were imposed for 10 years from JCPOA Adoption Day (18.10.2015), restrictions related to development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and asset freeze were imposed for 8 years, and restrictions on arms and travel were imposed for 5 years.

All UNSCR 2231 restrictions will be terminated earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion of JCPOA or terminated and replaced with provisions of UNSCR 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, and 1929 as a result of significant non-performance of commitments by Iran under the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231 “snapback” mechanism.

Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts were dissolved (their functions taken over by other actors – Security Council, UN Secretariat, and the Secretary General).

Designation criteria were specified and targets designated (maximum number of designees during the episode – 23 individuals, 62 entities; currently remaining on 23 individual designees, 61 entities). Enforcement authorities specified.


Coercion

N/A

Policy outcome

N/A.

Sanctions contribution

N/A.

Constraint

Mixed

Policy outcome

While Iran’s nuclear program has been constrained by the IAEA inspection requirements of the JCPOA, its ballistic missile program and arms exports have continued.

Sanctions contribution

While UN targeted sanctions remain in place, constraints to the development of Iran’s nuclear program came chiefly from the enhanced monitoring and verification mechanisms established in the JCPOA.

Signaling

Mixed

Policy outcome

The change of tone and very careful language used in resolutions, agreements and reports signal the relative normalization of relations with Iran, but the ambiguity provoked by the use of euphemistic and ambiguous language harm the clarity of the signal and a more complete de-stigmatization of Iran. The United States decision to withdraw from the agreement undermined the unified Security Council message on Iran.

Sanctions contribution

UN sanctions are the main mechanism through which the normalization of diplomatic relations with Iran takes place, although unilateral sanctions and broader diplomatic and commercial activities are also important.


Strengthening of political factions, increase in international enforcement capacity in different issue domains.


20-07-2015

Substantive

  • Provisions of UNSCR 2231 entered into force on 16.01.2016 [JCPOA Implementation Day]
  • Permits, upon prior case-by-case approval by the Security Council, imports to Iran of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran’s enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities, or development of nuclear weapon delivery systems (10 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10.2025, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Specifies such items, materials, equipment, goods and technology (INFCIRC/254/Rev.12/Part 1, INFCIRC/254/Rev.9/Part 2, or their most recent versions, and any items states determine could contribute to reprocessing or enrichment-related or heavy water-related activities inconsistent with the JCPOA)
  • Permits, upon prior case-by-case approval by the Security Council, technical training, technical or financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services, and transfer of financial resources or services, related to supply, sale, transfer, manufacture or use of prohibited items, materials, equipment, goods and technology (10 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10.2025, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Permits, upon prior case-by-case approval by the Security Council, investment and acquisition of an interest in foreign commercial activity involving uranium mining or production or use of nuclear material and technology listed in INFCIRC/254/Rev.12/Part 1 by Iran, its nationals, entities under its jurisdiction, or individuals and entities owned or controlled by them, acting on their behalf, or at their direction (10 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10.2025, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Specifies exemptions from prior Security Council approval and the related exemption procedures for (1) items, materials, equipment, goods and technology set out in INFCIRC/254/Rev.9/Part 2; (2) equipment covered by B.! of INFCIRC/254/Rev.12/Part 1 when such equipment is for light water reactors, low-enriched uranium covered by A.1.2 of INFCIRC/254/Rev.12/Part 1 when it is incorporated in assembled nuclear fuel elements for such reactors; and (3) items, materials, equipment, goods, technology, and related technical training, technical and financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services directly related to (a) necessary modification of two cascades at the Fordow facility for stable isotope production, (b) export of Iran’s enriched uranium in excess of 300kg in return for natural uranium, and (c) modernization of the Arak reactor based on agreed design
  • Specifies that in case of IAEA report confirming the Broader Conclusion before 18.10.2025, prior Security Council approval requirements will be suspended immediately and the related exemptions will continue to apply, permitting such activities upon prior case-by-case Security Council and Joint Commission notification
  • Permits, upon prior case-by-case approval by the Security Council and specified conditions, imports to and exports from Iran of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems, as well as related technology or technical assistance or training, financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services, transfer of financial resources or services, and Iran’s acquisition of an interest in foreign commercial activity regarding their supply, sale, transfer, manufacture, or use (8 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10. 2023, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Upon prior case-by-case approval by the Security Council, permits arms imports to Iran of specific weapons (battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems, as defined by UN Register of Conventional Arms, and related materiel) and related technical training, financial resources or services, advice, and other services or assistance related to their supply, sale, transfer, manufacture, maintenance, or use (5 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10.2020, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Decides that states shall prevent and prohibit any activities inconsistent with the specified nuclear and arms imports restrictions until the Termination Day (10 years after JCPOA Adoption day – 18.10.2025, provided sanctions have not been reinstated under the “snapback” mechanism) or earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion
  • Imposes arms exports embargo from Iran and specifies case-by-case UN Security Council exemption (5 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10.2020, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Imposes asset freeze on individuals and entities on UNSCR 1737 sanctions list on the date of the adoption of UNSCR 2231 except those specified in Attachment (8 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10.2023, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Specifies asset freeze exemptions and exemption procedure for funds, financial assets, or economic resources for (a) necessary basic expenses, (b) necessary extraordinary expenses, (c) necessary for civil nuclear cooperation projects described in Annex III of the JCPOA, (d) subject to judicial, administrative, or arbitral lien or judgment, and (e) necessary for activities directly related to permitted proliferation sensitive items or required for the implementation of the JCPOA
  • Imposes travel ban on individuals on UNSCR 1737 sanctions list on the date of the adoption of UNSCR 2231 except those specified in Attachment (5 years after JCPOA Adoption Day – 18.10.2020, earlier if IAEA report confirms the Broader Conclusion)
  • Specifies case-by-case travel ban exemptions for humanitarian, religious, and other approved purposes
  • Specifies designation criteria
  • Calls for inspection of cargo to and from Iran if reasonable grounds for UNSCR 2231 or JCPOA violation

Procedural

  • Specifies a "snapback" mechanism for reintroduction of provisions of UNSCR 1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, and 1929 and termination of provisions in paragraphs 7, 8, 16, and 20 of UNSCR 2231 if the UNSC fails to adopt a resolution to continue the termination of previous resolutions within 30 days of notification of an issue constituting significant non-performance of commitments under JCPOA by a JCPOA participant State [paragraphs 11 and 12 of UNSCR 2231 and 36 and 37 of JCPOA], unless the notifying state informs the UNSC that the issue has been resolved before the end of the 30-day period [paragraph 13 of UNSCR 2231]
  • Specifies criteria for optional additions of account payments and interests
  • Specifies that the Security Council will directly undertake the tasks related to UNSCR 2231, including monitoring and improvement of implementation, answering of inquiries, provision of support and guidance, review of proposals for nuclear, ballistic missile, and arms-related transfers to and activities with Iran, examination of alleged inconsistencies with the resolution, and granting of exemptions to the restrictions
  • Asks for Secretary-General reports on restrictions implementation (every 6 months)