It was a crowning diplomatic achievement. After negotiating assiduously for so many years, the parties managed to resolve the perilous conflict over the Iranian nuclear programme by concluding the Joint
The key elements of the Vienna agreement
Iran had six months after the conclusion of the agreement to significantly scale back its nuclear programme. Since that time, the programme has been subject to strict constraints. In particular, Iran undertook to
• dismantle two-thirds of its centrifuges
• export almost all of its stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia
• render the core of the plutonium reactor in Arak unusable by filling it with concrete
• use only 5060 first-generation centrifuges in the Natanz plant to enrich uranium for the next ten years
• restrict its uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent for a period of 15 years
• stockpile no more than 300 kilograms of enriched uranium (uranium hexafluoride) in the country at any time
• stop using the underground plant in Fordow for enrichment
• convert the research reactor in Arak so that it cannot be used to make weapons-grade plutonium
• refrain from activities connected with spent fuel reprocessing for a period of 15 years
• submit to the strictest IAEA controls in the world
• conduct future trade in nuclear technology and dual-use goods via an internationally monitored Procurement Channel.
In return for Iran scaling back its nuclear programme, sanctions against the nuclear programme were lifted on Implementation Day (16 January 2016). In addition to UN and EU sanctions, these also included extraterritorial US economic and financial sanctions. Since then, Iran has been able to export oil and gas again and to use international financial channels.
However, the bilateral embargo by the US against Iran (with the exception of aircraft, food and carpets) and the UN, EU and US lists of individuals and entities sanctioned for supporting terrorism and violating human rights remain in force. The restrictions against the Iranian missile programme imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) also remain in place. Following its withdrawal from the agreement, the US Administration gradually imposed new extraterritorial bilateral economic and financial sanctions on 5 November 2018.
The “snap-back” mechanism is an important component of the easing of the sanctions. Should Iran breach the agreement, the lifted UN sanctions can be reimposed through a simplified procedure, without the need for a UN Security Council resolution.
Implementation of the JCPoA
Representatives of the E3/EU+3 and Iran meet once every quarter in the Joint Commission, which is chaired by the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and where they discuss the implementation and interpretation of the Vienna agreement. The IAEA monitors the technical restrictions under the Vienna agreement. It has to date been able to confirm that Iran is fulfilling its commitments. In order to build
The Iranian economy revived noticeably following the lifting of sanctions. Indeed, economic growth shot up to approximately 12.5 percent in 2016. The latest IMF estimates put growth at 4.3 percent for the Iranian fiscal year from 21 March 2017 to 20 March 2018. The pre-sanctions oil production level of around four million barrels was reached again but fell once more after the US sanctions were re-imposed in December 2018.
With the establishment of INSTEX, the special purpose vehicle which is still being operationalised, the E3 is therefore working to make possible legitimate trade between European companies and other business stakeholders, for example