Today is “Adoption Day” under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) agreed to between Iran and the “P5+1″ countries (US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany), the day on which the parties must begin making necessary preparations to implement their respective JCPOA obligations.  Importantly, we note that no sanctions relief goes into effect on this “Adoption Day” – such relief will only occur on “Implementation Day” when the International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”) verifies that Iran has met certain responsibilities under the JCPOA.  This is expected to occur in spring or summer 2016.

The United States made several announcements today in keeping with its commitments under JCPOA Annex V, section 11. First, President Obama issued a memorandum directing the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Commerce, and Energy to take appropriate preparatory measures to “cease the application of” nuclear-related sanctions. Such measures include the State Department’s announcement of “contingent statutory waivers” of nuclear-related statutory sanctions that will become effective on Implementation Day. In addition, the President directed those respective federal agencies to take the necessary steps to prepare for the termination of relevant executive orders and the licensing of certain activities on “Implementation Day,” as required by JCPOA Annex V, section 17.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) published four Frequently Asked Questions related to these JCPOA Adoption Day announcements. These FAQs stress that Adoption Day did not trigger any new sanctions relief, and the above-described sanctions easing will only become effective on Implementation Day once the IAEA verifies that Iran has met its JCPOA commitments. The JCPOA does not set a specific date for Implementation Day, although it is expected to occur in the first half of 2016.

Additionally, the European Union has issued guidance regarding Adoption Day.