Adoption Day Marks Start of Preparations for Iran Sanctions Relief
October 18, 2015 marked the starting point for official preparations for the expected lifting of sanctions against Iran under the recently agreed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On this day, termed “Adoption Day,” JCPOA participants started making the necessary legal and administrative preparations for implementation of their JCPOA commitments. We summarize below the US and EU preparations, and the timeline for initial sanctions relief.
Please see full alert below for more information.
1 A copy of resolution 2231, which includes the JCPOA and its Annexes, is available here.
2 See Press Release on the outcome of the first Joint Commission on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
on the Iranian nuclear programme (October 19, 2015).
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US Waiver Determinations and Findings
Consistent with Annex V of the JCPOA, on October 18, 2015 the President issued a Memorandum3 to the
Secretaries of State, the Treasury, Commerce, and Energy to direct them to take all appropriate measures to
ensure the “prompt and effective implementation” of the US commitments in the JCPOA. On the same day,
the Secretary of State also issued contingent waivers4 of certain statutory sanctions in preparation for the
implementation of US commitments under the JCPOA, specifically with respect to various nuclear-related
secondary sanctions as outlined in Annex V of the JCPOA.
Importantly, although the waivers put in place the framework for the agreed-upon sanctions relief, the waivers
will not take effect until Implementation Day. Until then, all US sanctions against Iran—with the exception of
the limited relief provided for in the Joint Plan of Action, as extended—remain in effect.5 Prior to
Implementation Day, entering into contracts (contingent on the JCPOA relief or otherwise) involving Iran, the
Government of Iran, or persons (individuals and entities) designated on the List of Specially Designated
Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) may be sanctionable. The US has stated that it will continue to
“vigorously enforce” the sanctions that remain in effect.
Even after Implementation Day, US persons6 will continue to be broadly prohibited from dealing with Iran, with
the exception of the limited relief contemplated in the JCPOA that will be licensed by OFAC pertaining to the
importation from Iran of food and carpets; the export, re-export, sale, lease, or transfer to Iran of commercial
passenger aircraft, spare parts, and components for commercial passenger aircraft, as well as associated
services; and certain activities of foreign entities owned or controlled by US persons.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) intends to publish detailed
guidance and information on the implementation of US commitments with respect to the JCPOA sanctions
relief—both for US persons and non-US persons—prior to Implementation Day. OFAC will also post an
update on its website once Implementation Day arrives and the JCPOA sanctions relief goes into effect.
EU Adoption of Legal Acts Allowing Future Lifting of Sanctions
On October 18, 2015, the EU Council adopted the legal acts that will allow for gradual future lifting under the
JCPOA of all nuclear-related EU sanctions imposed on Iran. They were published in the EU’s Official Journal
on the same day. These legal acts (contained in Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1863, Council Regulation
2015/1861 and Council Implementing Regulation 2015/1862) amend the EU sanctions outlined in Council
Regulation 267/2012 and Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP.7 More specifically, they provide for expected
future sanctions relief by suspending or removing provisions with certain sanctions measures while inserting
new provisions outlining an authorization regime for specific nuclear-related transactions with Iran.8 For
example, these legal acts confirm that a long list of EU asset freeze listings in relation to Iran will be removed
on Implementation Day. In addition, the restrictions on fund transfers to and from Iran and other financial
services will also be lifted on that date, as will sanctions relating to crude oil and petroleum, petrochemicals,
natural gas, precious metals, and key naval equipment.
These published legal acts allowing for sanctions relief will start to apply only on Implementation Day. The
legal acts define Implementation Day as the date on which the EU Council “has noted” the IAEA Director-
General’s presentation of a report to the IAEA Board of Governors and to the UNSC which confirms that Iran
has taken the nuclear-related measures agreed in the JCPOA. The date of Implementation Day shall be
published on the applicable day in the EU’s Official Journal.
3 The Presidential Memorandum is available here.
4 The Secretary of State’s Waiver Determinations and Findings are available here.
5 The August 7, 2015 OFAC Guidance Relating to the Continuation of Certain Temporary Sanctions Relief Pursuant to
the JPOA Prior to Implementation of the JPOA, as extended, is available here.
6 US persons are defined to include US citizens and permanent residents, wherever located; entities organized under
US law, including foreign branches; and any person located in the US.
7 See Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 (as amended; the latest consolidated version is available here) and
Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP (as amended; the latest consolidated version is available here).
8 We note that this is in addition to certain measures adopted to prepare for JCPOA implementation by allowing EU
Member States to authorize certain activities and transfers directly related to specific Iranian nuclear activities, which
were adopted on July 31, 2015. Please see our alert on this previous development here.
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On Adoption Day, the EU Council also adopted a Declaration noting that the EU’s commitment to lift all
nuclear-related sanctions under the JCPOA is without prejudice to the possible reintroduction of such
sanctions in case of Iran’s significant non-performance of its JCPOA commitments.9 Importantly, the EU
Council has committed to “reintroduce without delay” all terminated and/or suspended sanctions in that
case, upon joint recommendation to the Council by the EU High Representative, France, Germany, and the
UK. The legal acts also indicate that “adequate protection” will be provided for the execution of certain
contracts concluded while JCPOA sanctions relief was in force in case sanctions “snap back” into place.
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9 See Council Declaration (2015/C 345/01).
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