In what the U.S. Treasury Department has touted as the “largest ever single-day action targeting the Iranian regime,” the United States has now completed its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As of November 5, with the conclusion of the second wind-down period and the naming of more than 700 individuals and entities to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, the U.S. secondary sanctions on Iran that had been suspended as part of the Iran nuclear deal have now been fully reinstated.

As previously advised, on May 8, 2018, President Trump announced his decision to pull the United States out of the JCPOA between the P5+1 nations1 and Iran. In this same announcement, the president stated that sanctions that had been in effect against Iran prior to the JCPOA would be re-imposed over the course of two wind-down periods to end 90 and 180 days from the date of the president’s announcement.

The first of these wind-down periods ended on August 6, 2018, at which time, under the authority of Executive Order 13846, the United States re-imposed various secondary sanctions. These included sanctions on non-U.S. persons engaged in:

  • The acquisition of U.S. dollar banknotes by the Iranian government;
  • Trade in gold or precious metals;
  • Trade to or from Iran of graphite, raw or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes;
  • Significant transactions with Iran’s automotive sector; and
  • Significant transactions related to the purchase or sale of Iranian rials.

With the conclusion of the second wind-down period, on November 5, the following additional secondary sanctions on non-U.S. persons were restored:

  • Sanctions relating to transactions with the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company, National Iranian Tanker Company, and other entities identified as SDNs;
  • Sanctions for engaging in significant transactions involving Iranian petroleum, petroleum products, or petrochemical products;
  • Sanctions for the provision of significant support or goods to Iran’s port operators and shipping and shipbuilding sectors, including the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, South Shipping Line Iran, or their affiliates;
  • Sanctions on the provision of specialized financial messaging services to the Central Bank of Iran and Iranian financial institutions described in Section 104(c)(2)(E)(II) of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act of 2010;
  • Sanctions on the provision of underwriting services, insurance, or reinsurance; and
  • Sanctions relating to Iran’s energy sector.

In practical terms, the conclusion of the wind-down periods marks a return to the pre-JCPOA status quo with regard to most secondary sanctions. That said, there has been a substantial increase in the number of persons named to the SDN list as a result of the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. Non-U.S. persons engaging in significant transactions with any of these may be exposed to secondary sanctions. Persons or entities that could expose non-U.S. persons to secondary sanctions will be identified on the SDN List with the notation: “Additional Sanctions Information — Subject to Secondary Sanctions.” As always, it is critical to review the SDN List to determine any interactions with either relisted or newly listed persons and entities.