On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States will cease its participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “JCPOA”) and reintroduce nuclear-related sanctions on Iran that were lifted following the implementation of the JCPOA, effectively restoring the 2013 Iranian sanctions program from a U.S. perspective.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of State announced that to implement the President’s decision, they will introduce 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods with sanctions relief consistent to that currently provided by the JCPOA. Following these wind-down periods, U.S. secondary sanctions (i.e., sanctions targeting activity outside U.S. jurisdiction by threatening that those engaged in such activity will themselves be sanctioned by the United States) lifted under the JCPOA will be re-imposed.
In contrast to their responses in 2013, however, key allies are actively opposing U.S. sanctions policy. Although it is likely that the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions will have a significant disruptive effect on international financial transactions with Iran (which, even under the JCPOA, were never completely normalized), the impact and political fallout of secondary sanctions remains to be seen. The legal provisions are the same as those in place prior to the JCPOA, but the outcome may well be different.
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