On January 16, 2016, the United States and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions that have been imposed against Iran since 1979. These actions signal what is being called “Implementation Day” which refers to the implementation of the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Implementation Day was officially declared on January 16, 2016 according to a press release from the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The JCPOA is the agreement announced in July of 2015 between the P5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council including China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany), the European Union, and Iran which puts an end to Iran’s nuclear program.
The sanctions have been lifted after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring agency of the United Nations, verified that certain steps had been taken by Iran to ensure that all nuclear activities are limited. These steps included: reducing Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent, leaving an amount insufficient for weapons; dismantling 12,000 centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium; and removing and disabling the core of the nuclear reactor in Arak. Since Iran has complied with these stipulations outlined in the agreement, the sanctions were automatically lifted. This has enabled Iran to gain control of approximately $100 billion dollars previously kept in frozen foreign accounts.
The European Union lifted restrictions on trade and investment in oil, metals, shipping, petrochemicals, and shipbuilding as well as banking and insurance. Iran will now be able to connect with the rest of the world on an economic level, something that they have been isolated from for many decades. Certain sanctions still remain in effect such as a trade embargo that greatly restricts most American business with Iran. This embargo disables Iran from using the American banking system which is an important piece to fully participate in global commerce.
For more information on the lifting of Iranian sanctions and to see what the next steps will be, please visit this article in the New York Times titled “With Iran Nuclear Deal Implemented, What Happens Next?”
For more information on JCPOA, visit our previous Beyond Borders blog post that outlines the highlights of the plan or visit the State Department’s website.