On 23 November 2015, Russian President signed Edict No. 567 (the "Edict") suspending certain sanctions previously imposed by Russia on Iran in furtherance of the UN Security Council Resolutions.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has introduced in the domestic legislation a broad set of sanctions aimed to restrict Iranian nuclear policy (Edicts of the Russian President No. 1593 dated 28 November 2007, No. 682 dated 5 May 2008 and No. 1154 dated 22 September 2010). These measures applicable to all persons under the Russian jurisdiction prohibited sale, supply and procurement of certain sensitive items and technology to Iran, restricted technological and scientific cooperation with Iran, prohibited entry of listed persons in Russia.

On 14 July 2015 Russia together with four other permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy agreed with Iran a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ("JCPOA") aimed at addressing concerns of the international community about the Iranian nuclear program. Iran has agreed to refrain from seeking, developing or acquiring any nuclear weapons and open its facilities for IAEA inspections in consideration for gradual removal of sanctions.

Along with the UN Security Council, EU, and US, Russia is taking steps forward to implement JCPOA. The Edict provides for suspension of selected sanctions with retroactive effect as of 20 July 2015 for an indefinite period.

So far, the suspension relates to nuclear sphere only and provides that all persons under the Russian jurisdiction, subject to the strict compliance with JCPOA and inspection undertakings by Iran, are now allowed to engage in the supply, sale, or transfer of items, materials, equipment, goods and technology, and the provision of any related technical assistance, training, financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services that is directly related to the modification of two cascades at the Fordow facility for stable isotope production. Further, such persons are allowed to engage in the export of Iran’s enriched uranium in excess of 300 kilograms in return for natural uranium. Finally, they are allowed to participate in the modernization of the Arak reactor based on the agreed conceptual design and, subsequently, on the agreed final design of such reactor.

Persons under the Russian jurisdiction are also permitted, subject to the strict compliance with JCPOA and approval by the UN SC Committee on a case-by-case basis in advance, to engage in supplies and activity directly related to implementation of the nuclear-related actions specified in paragraphs 15.1-15.11 of Annex V of the JCPOA or required for preparation for the implementation of the JCPOA.

The wording of the respective provisions of the Edict is largely consistent with the exemptions set forth in paragraphs 21 and 23 of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 to which JCPOA is enclosed.

Pending the IAEA confirmation of Iranian compliance with JCPOA, the other sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and European countries including Russia remain in effect. However, gradual relaxation of nuclear sanctions gives the prospect for further relaxations to follow.