On October 18, 2015, President Barack Obama directed U.S. Government agencies to take all appropriate measures to implement U.S. commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). This date was “Adoption Day” under the JCPOA, or 90 days after the UN Security Council approved the agreement. We previously summarized the JCPOA in this blog post. This U.S. action is taking place in parallel with similar action by the EU, as summarized in this blog post.
In conjunction with the President’s actions, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued contingent waivers of certain statutory sanctions under the JCPOA. These contingent waivers are consistent with the sanctions relief expected under the JCPOA (as summarized in this blog post). The next JCPOA milestone will be Implementation Day, when the parties to the agreement are satisfied that Iran has fulfilled its initial nuclear-related commitments outlined in the JCPOA. The International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”) must verify that Iran has fulfilled its key nuclear-related commitments before Implementation Day occurs. On Implementation Day, Secretary Kerry will confirm that Iran has achieved IAEA-verified JCPOA compliance, and the sanction waivers issued on Adoption Day will come into effect, along with other sanctions relief under the JCPOA.
The precise timing of Implementation Day in 2016 is uncertain. In the meantime, all U.S. sanctions targeting Iran remain in effect until Implementation Day, aside from the limited sanctions relief under the Joint Plan of Action of November 2013. In that regard, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued FAQs about Adoption Day, emphasizing that most U.S. sanctions remain in effect. In particular, OFAC emphasized in these FAQs that certain activities may still be sanctionable: “Entering into contracts involving Iran or its government before Implementation Day may be sanctionable. In certain circumstances, this could include contracts that are contingent on the implementation of sanctions relief under the JCPOA, such as contracts involving individuals or entities on the SDN List. Until Implementation Day, we will continue to vigorously enforce the sanctions that remain in effect.”