JCPOA

  • A Week of Looming Conflict Between the United States and Iran

    May 8 was the first anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Islamic Republic marked the occasion by announcing that it would defy the JCPOA’s limits on the amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water in its inventory. 

    Iranian President Rouhani issued an ultimatum to the European signatories of the JCPOA to assist Tehran with exporting its oil and normalizing its access to the global banking system within sixty days, or else Iran would take further actions. On the same day, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that Tehran could dismiss the...

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  • On Iran, Europeans Caught Between Multilateral and Transatlantic Realities

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on May 8 that Iran may reduce its compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if the non-US parties to the deal don’t find a way to provide Tehran with promised economic benefits.

    In response, the European Union and foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany expressed their continued support for the JCPOA but warned Iran not to carry out its ultimatum to disregard selected limitations to its nuclear program.

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  • Iran Withdraws From Certain Aspects of the Nuclear Agreement

    A year after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and six months after it re-imposed sanctions, Iran has said it would reduce its compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement in sixty days unless the remaining parties take concrete steps to continue trade with Iran. The decision was announced by President Hassan Rouhani in a televised speech on May 8. Rouhani said, “We felt that the nuclear deal needs a surgery and the painkiller pills of the last year have been ineffective … This surgery is for saving the deal, not destroying it.”

    The Iranian president warned that Europe has sixty days to prevent US sanctions from impacting Iran’s banking and oil sectors. The news was formally relayed to the remaining signatories of JCPOA: Britain,...

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  • Is Iran Running Out of Patience With Nuclear Agreements?

    Ever since the Trump administration came to office, it has been applying pressure on Iran without provoking a new proliferation crisis. But the days of Donald Trump having his baklava, so to speak, and eating it too may be drawing to a close.

    In a series of public and private appearances last week in New York—on the sidelines of a UN preparatory meeting for a 2020 review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made clear that Iran’s patience with the Trump administration and the international community may be coming to an end. 

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  • Try Taming Rather Than Laming Iran’s Missile Program

    From its early days, the Trump administration has sought to isolate and weaken the Islamic Republic of Iran, using Iran’s missile and space launch programs as a key justification. 

    In addition to withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, expanding extensive trade sanctions, and severely restricting travel to the US by Iranians, the Trump White House “has also accelerated a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets,” according to a recent report in The New York Times

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  • The Warsaw Summit and Effective Multilateralism

    The Trump administration has sought to break out of its international isolation on Iran by pressuring nations to go to Warsaw for a summit on peace and security in the Middle East. But the administration has failed to craft an effective multilateral approach towards Iran based on common concerns and a realistic understanding of what is achievable.

    Despite White House backtracking from an initial expressed aim to focus on Iran, US officials and regional leaders such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the occasion to unleash rhetorical barbs against Iran—which was not invited. 

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  • Trump’s Iran Policy: Much Ado About Nothing

    The Trump administration’s policy of containing and weakening the Islamic Republic of Iran may appear to be going well to causal observers of Iranian affairs, and there is some evidence to support such a view.

    The United States has withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that solely addressed the regime’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons but failed to address its menacing actions towards neighboring countries, continued support of international terrorism, and ongoing efforts to develop ballistic missile technology. The JCPOA also completely failed to address the horrible human rights situation inside Iran itself.

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  • A Pro-Active New US Policy Toward Iran

    With the advent of another presidential election cycle in the United States, many US and foreign politicians and policy advocates have already begun thinking about recommendations for the next occupant of the White House.

    In both domestic and foreign affairs, it will not be sufficient to simply revisit decisions made by President Donald Trump but to come up with a proactive agenda for a new president—or a second Trump administration.

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  • Luncheon with Sir Peter Westmacott

    On Monday, February 4, the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative hosted a discussion on the durability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Distinguished Ambassadorial Fellow Sir Peter Westmacott. Future of Iran Initiative Director, Barbara Slavin, introduced the speaker and welcomed participants.

    Sir Westmacott made remarks on the outlook of the British government regarding the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a mechanism by European governments to salvage the deal, and prospects for European firms in conducting business inside Iran.


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  • Facing Reality: Europe’s Special Purpose Vehicle Will Not Challenge US Sanctions

    The European Union on January 31 formally announced its long-awaited special purpose vehicle (SPV) for trade with Iran, called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). 

    Predictably, the SPV won’t seek to challenge US sanctions by attempting to conduct sanctionable trade with Iran as had been originally floated, and will instead focus on non-sanctionable trade, including humanitarian goods—food, medicine, and medical devices—exempt from US sanctions. It’s clear from the European announcement that there was no real market in the EU, especially from Europe’s financial institutions, to take on the risk of being sanctioned by the United States. But this doesn’t mean that the SPV will be feckless; instead it will serve an important role in conducting the humanitarian trade that US sanctions policy encourages, but harsh US rhetoric and risk-averse...

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