A meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) took place in Vienna on 6 March 2019. Under the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the nuclear deal.
The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, by EEAS Secretary General Helga Schmid and, was attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran at the level of Political Directors/ Deputy Foreign Ministers.
Recalling that the JCPOA is a key element of the global non-proliferation architecture and a significant diplomatic achievement of multilateral diplomacy endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council through Resolution 2231, the participants reiterated their commitment to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA in all its parts.
Participants welcomed and acknowledged Iran's continued implementation of its nuclear-related commitments, as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in fourteen consecutive reports, including in its latest quarterly report issued on 22 February, against the background of the re-imposition of US sanctions and the effect of this on Iran's economy. They also commended the professional and impartial role played by the IAEA, the only body charged with the monitoring and verification of the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Participants will continue to support the modernisation of the Arak research reactor as part of the JCPOA and the conversion of the Fordow facility into a nuclear, physics and technology centre. They reaffirmed their support for projects in the area of civil nuclear co-operation on the basis of Annex III of the JCPOA, and welcomed their continued implementation. Furthermore, they reiterated the readiness of the Procurement Channel to evaluate proposals for transfers to Iran, and their determination to further support international engagement in this regard.
Participants recognised that, alongside implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments, the lifting of sanctions allowing for the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran constitute essential parts of the JCPOA.
In the light of the statement from the Joint Commission of 6 July 2018 held at ministerial level and the joint-ministerial statement of September 24 2018, and following a meeting of the Working Group on the Implementation of Sanctions Lifting (Sanctions Working Group), which was convened on 5 March, participants reviewed their respective commitments as regards sanctions-lifting. They also discussed the impact of the re-imposition by the US of sanctions previously lifted under the JCPOA and took stock of respective efforts aimed at preserving the dividends of sanctions-lifting.
More specifically, mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, participants welcomed the registration of INSTEX (Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges), a Special Purpose Vehicle conducive to effective financial channels, as well as the determination of France, Germany and the United Kingdom as initial shareholders to facilitate and enable legitimate trade with Iran, consistent with international and European laws and regulations. In this regard, the CEO of INSTEX, Per Fischer, was present the previous day for presentations of its on-going work. The EU will continue to support the work to make this vehicle operational as soon as possible in close coordination with an Iranian corresponding entity which is being established. It will equally support the commitment to further develop INSTEX with interested European countries and to work to open it, at a later stage, to economic operators from third countries.
In this regard, participants recalled initiatives taken in support of trade and economic relations with Iran, including numerous sectoral expert missions, promotion and connection of Iranian small and medium-sized enterprises with their counterparts abroad, intense outreach to banks, economic operators and key partners around the world.
In addition, the participants discussed actions in support of – and underlined their continuing commitment to - the objectives of:
- maintaining and promoting wider economic and sectoral relations;
- the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals;
- the continuation of sea, land, air and rail transport relations;
- the promotion of export credit cover;
- clear and effective support for economic operators trading with Iran, particularly small and medium sized enterprises which are the backbone of many economies;
- the encouragement of further investments in Iran;
- the protection of economic operators for their investment and other commercial and financial activities in or in relation to Iran;
- the bringing together of private and public sector experts, including through the promotion of Business Councils;
- the practical support for trade and investment with Iran and
- the protection of companies from the extraterritorial effect of US sanctions.
Participants stressed their determination to support practical solutions concerning sanctions lifting and agreed to keep progress under close review and to convene the Joint Commission, including at ministerial level, as appropriate in order to advance common efforts. They will also continue to intensify efforts to preserve the JCPOA including as regards sanctions lifting through specialised and focused expert discussions including, as appropriate, sub-groups within the framework of the Sanctions Working Group.