Iran Nuclear Agreement

September 15, 2017

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile


Kenneth Katzman, Paul K. Kerr



Summary On July 14, 2015, Iran and the six powers that negotiated with Iran about its nuclear program since 2006 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany— collectively known as the P5+1) finalized a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA required constraints that seek to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program can be used for purely peaceful purposes in exchange for a broad lifting of U.S., European Union (EU), and United Nations (U.N.) sanctions on Iran. The agreement replaced a Joint Plan of Action (JPA) interim nuclear accord in effect from 2014 to 2016. A resolution of disapproval of the JCPOA was not enacted by Congress by the deadline of September 17, 2015, set by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17), and the JCPOA formally took effect on “Adoption Day” (October 18, 2015). “Implementation Day” was declared by the P5+1 on January 16, 2016, representing the completion of Iran’s nuclear requirements; entry into effect of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA; and the start of sanctions relief stipulated in the agreement. Officials from both the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations have certified that Iran is abiding by its JCPOA commitments


Top Trump Administration officials have argued that the JCPOA does not address Iran’s “malign” activities in the region and any other activities that the Administration considers provocative or destabilizing, such as the continued development of ballistic missiles. Administration officials have also said that these weaknesses in the agreement might lead the Administration to conclude that the agreement is not adequately serving U.S. interests. Yet, P5+1 and other U.S. allies argue that the agreement contributes to regional stability and that the United States should continue to implement it.

In the 114th Congress, legislation was introduced with the stated purpose of redressing asserted weaknesses of the deal or preventing any U.S. sanctions relief beyond that explicitly promised in the JCPOA. Some of that legislation, as well as other proposals, have been reintroduced in the 115th Congress. The Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (P.L. 115-44) mandates sanctions on Iranian proliferation, human rights abuses, and support for terrorist activities has been enacted.


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