European Union External Action

Nuclear Agreement

08/05/2018 - 15:20

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and its implementation, Nuclear Agreement with IRAN

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and its implementation

Since 2006, the High Representative has led diplomatic efforts between the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran, which led to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA) in Vienna on 14 July 2015. The JCPOA ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and provides for the comprehensive lifting of UN, EU and US nuclear-related sanctions. (Note: following the US withdrawal from the JCPOA on 8 May 2018, the US re-imposed its sanctions on Iran)

On 20 July 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2231(2015) regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by Iran and the E3/EU+3. This resolution endorses the JCPOA, allowed for certain exemptions to existing restrictive measures and defines the schedule and commitments to be undertaken by all parties to lead to the termination of restrictive measures against Iran.

Following legislative reviews of the JCPOA in the US and Iran, Adoption Day was declared on 18 October 2015 which set in motion the implementation of the provisions of the JCPOA. On Adoption Day the EU adopted the legislative framework to lift all of its nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions.

The next milestone, Implementation Day was reached on 16 January 2016 after the IAEA verified that Iran had fulfilled its commitments. On Implementation Day the EU legislative framework providing for the lifting of economic and financial nuclear-related sanctions entered into effect. UN financial nuclear-related sanctions and US secondary nuclear-related sanctions were also lifted. On the same day, a comprehensive Information Note on the lifting of sanctions was issued in order to provide clarity to EU business operators on the new regulatory environment.

The next stage of the JCPOA is Transition Day, which will take place 8 years after Adoption Day (i.e. in 2023) or when the IAEA has reached the broader conclusion that all remaining nuclear material in Iran is for peaceful activities – whichever is earlier. This will trigger the lifting of the remaining nuclear-related sanctions, ballistic missile restrictions, and related designations. 

Finally, on Termination Day, which will occur 10 years after Adoption Day (i.e. in 2025), remaining EU measures will be terminated, the UNSC will conclude consideration of the Iran nuclear issue and UNSC resolution 2231 (2015) will be terminated. 

Under the JCPOA, a Joint Commission was established consisting of all members of the E3/EU+3 and Iran. The EU High Representative coordinates the work of the Joint Commission, which oversees JCPOA implementation and addresses potential problems and disputes. Under the Joint Commission, a Procurement Working Group, a Technical Working Group, an Arak Working Group, and a Sanctions Working Group have been established. All groups except for the Arak Working Group are coordinated by a representative of the High Representative. On 8 May 2018, the President of the United States announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Therefore, as of 9 May, the United States does not participate in any JCPOA-related activities or meetings.

The U.S. announced its withdrawal from the JCPOA on 8 May 2018.

As of 6 July 2018, the Arak Working Group is co-chaired by the United Kingdom and China.

Sanctions imposed by the EU in view of the human rights situation in Iran, support for terrorism and other grounds are not part of the JCPOA, and remain in place.


See also

Sanctions policy


Following President Trump's announcement on 8 May 2018 that the US will withdraw from the JCPOA and re-instate previously lifted sanctions, the EU will update its Information Note on EU sanctions to be lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Until the updated Information Note's publication the current version, accessible in all EU official languages here, remains valid.

Following the US announcement, the EU High Representative/Vice President, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the EU Member States has emphasized the EU’s continued commitment to the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.

In this regard, the EU has also stressed that the lifting of sanctions constitutes an essential part of the JCPOA. In line with this recognition, the EU has undertaken a number of efforts. On 7 August 2018, the update of the Blocking Statute and of the European Investment Bank’s external lending mandate to make Iran eligible entered into force. 

On 31 January 2019, France, Germany and the United Kingdom announced the registrations of the special purpose vehicle called INSTEX aimed at facilitating legitimate trade between European economic actors and Iran. The EU High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini welcomed the creation of INSTEX and committed to continue to accompany the work of the Member States involved to make this vehicle operational as soon as possible in close coordination with the Iranian counterparts.

The European Union remains committed to support the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA including by the lifting of nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions and engaging with the private sector and economic operators, especially banks, to promote growth in trade and investment. In particular, extensive guidance has been provided in form of an "Information Note on EU sanctions to be lifted under the JCPOA" to ensure the new regulatory framework is clear.

The publication of relevant guidelines by the EU is foreseen by the JCPOA (paragraph 27) and occurred on 16 January 2016.


More information

For all nuclear and non-nuclear sanctions-related questions please contact: EEAS Sanctions Policy Division,


JCPOA Information Note (all EU langauges)

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