Violations of Int’l Laws/Treaties & Revocation of JCPOA Risk

Although some sanctions were lifted as part of the JCPOA no business can be assured that a regime intent on acquiring nuclear weapons through cheating, subterfuge, and guile will not engage in behavior that causes the “snapback” of economic sanctions in the international community. In September 2020, the United States invoked the snapback of all U.S. sanctions, after withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018. In addition to the U.S., the remaining parties to the JCPOA, particularly France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, may also trigger the snapback mechanism. Iran’s critical role throughout 2022 and 2023 in providing military drones and potentially ballistic missiles to Russian forces, which have resulted in the killing of Ukrainian civilians, has amplified calls for the “E-3” bloc to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

The mechanism for snapping back sanctions was specifically designed to respond quickly to Iranian violations of the JCPOA. Accordingly, foreign businesses operating in Iran will experience an uncertain and rapidly changing legal footing of their Iranian operations unless and until Iran demonstrates long-term sustained compliance with its JCPOA obligations and universally accepted legal principles.  

Iran’s long record of cheating on its international nuclear obligations always suggested that JCPOA compliance was unlikely. Just months into the JCPOA, President Obama said that Iran was not abiding by the spirit of the agreement by “engaging in a range of provocative actions.” Today, Iran has repeatedly and flagrantly violated not only the spirit but also the letter of the agreement.