Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102
Iran and six world powers known as the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) reached a historic nuclear deal on July 14, 2015 that limited Iran's nuclear program and enhanced monitoring in exchange for relief from nuclear sanctions. Prior to that, Iran had been engaged in efforts to acquire the capability to build nuclear weapons for more than two decades. Although it remained uncertain whether Tehran would have made the final decision to build nuclear weapons, it had developed a range of technologies, including uranium enrichment, warhead design, and delivery systems, that would give it this option in a relatively short time frame. Tehran maintains that its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.
What follows is a chronological recount of the most significant developments in Iran’s nuclear program, international efforts to negotiate a settlement to address this controversial issue, and implementation of the agreement reached by Iran and the P5+1 on July 14, 2015.
November 1967: Iran’s first nuclear reactor, the U.S. supplied five-megawatt Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) goes critical. It operates on uranium enriched to about 93 percent (it is converted to run on 20 percent in 1993,) which the United States also supplies.
February 1970: The Iranian parliament ratifies the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
1974: Shah Reza Pahlavi establishes the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and announces plans to generate about 23,000 megawatts of energy over 20 years, including the construction of 23 nuclear power plants and the development of a full nuclear fuel cycle.
1979: The Iranian Revolution and the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran result in a severing of U.S.-Iranian ties and damages Iran’s relationship with the West. Iranian nuclear projects are halted.
January 19, 1984: The U.S. Department of State adds Iran to its list of state sponsors of terrorism, effectively imposing sweeping sanctions on Tehran.
1987: Iran acquires technical schematics for building a P-1 centrifuge from the Abdul Qadeer Khan network.
1992: Congress passes the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act of 1992, which prohibits the transfer of controlled goods or technology that might contribute “knowingly and materially” to Iran’s proliferation of advanced conventional weapons.
1993: Conversion of the TRR is completed by Argentina’s Applied Research Institute. It now runs on fuel enriched to just less than 20 percent, 115 kilograms of which is provided by Argentina; the contract for the conversion was signed in 1987.
August 5, 1996: The U.S. Congress passes the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, also known as the Iran Sanctions Act, that penalizes foreign and U.S. investment exceeding $20 million in Iran’s energy sector in one year.
August 2002: The National Council of Resistance on Iran, the political wing of the terrorist organization Mujahideen-e Khalq (MeK), holds a press conference and declares Iran has built nuclear facilities near Natanz and Arak.
September 12, 2003: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors adopts a resolution calling for Iran to suspend all enrichment – and reprocessing- related activities. The resolution requires Iran to declare all material relevant to its uranium-enrichment program and allow IAEA inspectors to conduct environmental sampling at any location. The resolution requires Iran to meet its conditions by October 31st 2003.
October 21, 2003: Iran agrees to meet IAEA demands by the October 31st deadline. In a deal struck between Iran and European foreign ministers, Iran agrees to suspend its uranium–enrichment activities and ratify an additional protocol requiring Iran to provide an expanded declaration of its nuclear activities and granting the IAEA broader rights of access to sites in the country.
June 18, 2004: The IAEA rebukes Iran for failing to cooperate with IAEA inspectors. Iran responds by refusing to suspend enrichment-related activities as it had previously pledged.
November 14, 2004: Iran notifies the IAEA that it will suspend enrichment-related activities following talks with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. According to the so-called Paris Agreement, Iran would maintain the suspension for the duration of talks among the four countries. As a result, the IAEA Board of Governors decides not to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council.
February 27, 2005: Russia and Iran conclude a nuclear fuel supply agreement in which Russia would provide fuel for the Bushehr reactor it is constructing and Iran would return the spent nuclear fuel to Russia. The arrangement is aimed at preventing Iran from extracting plutonium for nuclear weapons from the spent nuclear fuel.
August 8, 2005: Iran begins producing uranium hexafluoride at its Isfahan facility. As a result, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom halt negotiations with Tehran.
September 24, 2005: The IAEA adopts a resolution finding Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement by a vote of 22-1 with 12 members abstaining. The resolution says that the nature of Iran’s nuclear activities and the lack of assurance in their peaceful nature fall under the purview of the UN Security Council, paving the way for a future referral.
February 4, 2006: A special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors refers Iran to the UN Security Council. The resolution “deems it necessary for Iran to” suspend its enrichment-related activities, reconsider the construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor, ratify the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement, and fully cooperate with the agency’s investigation.
February 6, 2006: Iran tells the IAEA that it will stop voluntarily implementing the additional protocol and other non-legally binding inspection procedures.
April 11, 2006: Iran announces that it has enriched uranium for the first time. The uranium enriched to about 3.5 percent was produced at the Natanz pilot enrichment plant.
June 6, 2006: China, France, Germany, Russia the United Kingdom, and the United Sates (the P5+1, referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) propose a framework agreement to Iran offering incentives for Iran to halt its enrichment program for an indefinite period of time.
July 31, 2006: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1696, making the IAEA’s calls for Iran to suspend enrichment –related and reprocessing activities legally binding for the first time.
August 22, 2006: Iran delivers a response to the P5+1 proposal, rejecting the requirement to suspend enrichment but declaring that the package contained “elements which may be useful for a constructive approach.”
December 23, 2006: The UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1737, imposing sanctions on Iran for its failure to suspend its enrichment-related activities. The sanctions prohibit countries from transferring sensitive nuclear- and missile-related technology to Iran and require that all countries freeze the assets of ten Iranian organizations and twelve individuals for their involvement in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
March 24, 2007: The UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1747 in response to Iran’s continued failure to comply with the council’s demand to suspend Uranium enrichment.
August 21, 2007: Following three rounds of talks in July and August, the IAEA and Iran agree on a “work plan” for Iran to answer long-standing questions about its nuclear activities, including work suspected of being related to nuclear weapons development.
December 3, 2007: The United States publicly releases an unclassified summary of a new National Intelligence Estimate report on Iran’s nuclear program. The NIE says that the intelligence community judged “with high confidence” that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003 and assessed with moderate confidence that the program had not resumed as of mid-2007. The report defines Iran’s nuclear weapons program as “design and weaponization work” as well as clandestine uranium conversion and enrichment. The NIE also said that Iran was believed to be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon between 2010 and 2015.
March 3, 2008: The UN Security Council passes Resolution 1803, further broadening sanctions on Iran. It requires increased efforts on the part of member states to prevent Iran from acquiring sensitive nuclear or missile technology and adds 13 persons and seven entities to the UN blacklist.
June 14, 2008: The P5+1 present a new comprehensive proposal to Iran updating its 2006 incentives package. The new proposal maintained the same basic framework as the one in 2006, but highlighted an initial “freeze-for-freeze” process wherein Iran would halt any expansion of its enrichment activities while the UN Security Council agreed not to impose additional sanctions.
February 3, 2009: Iran announces that it successfully carried out its first satellite launch, raising international concerns that Iran’s ballistic missile potential was growing.
April 8, 2009: Following an Iran policy review by the new Obama administration, the United States announces that it would participate fully in the P5+1 talks with Iran, a departure from the previous administration’s policy requiring Iran to meet UN demands first.
June 12, 2009: Iran holds presidential elections. Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is declared the winner amid many indications that the election was rigged. This sparks weeks of protests within Iran and delays diplomatic efforts to address Iran’s nuclear program.
September 25, 2009: United States President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that Iran has been constructing a secret, second uranium-enrichment facility, Fordow, in the mountains near the holy city of Qom. IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said that Iran informed the agency September 21 about the existence of the facility, but U.S. intelligence officials said Iran offered the confirmation only after learning that it had been discovered by the United States.
October 1, 2009: The P5+1 and Iran agree “in principle” to a U.S.-initiated, IAEA-backed, proposal to fuel the TRR. The proposal entails Iran exporting the majority of its 3.5 percent enriched Uranium in return for 20 percent-enriched uranium fuel for the TRR, which has exhausted much of its supply. This agreement was later met with domestic political opposition in Iran, resulting in attempts by Tehran to change the terms of the “fuel swap.”
February 9, 2010: Iran begins the process of producing 20 percent enriched uranium, allegedly for the TRR.
May 17, 2010: Brazil, Iran, and Turkey issue a joint declaration attempting to resuscitate the TRR fuel-swap proposal. In the declaration, Iran agrees to ship 1,200 kilograms of 3.5 percent enriched uranium to Turkey in return for TRR fuel from France and Russia. France, Russia, and the United States reject the arrangement, citing Iran’s larger stockpile of 3.5 percent-enriched uranium and the failure of the declaration to address Iran’s enrichment to 20 percent.
June 9, 2010: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1929, significantly expanding sanctions against Iran. In addition to tightening proliferation-related sanctions and banning Iran from carrying out nuclear-capable ballistic missile tests, the resolution imposes an arms embargo on the transfer of major weapons systems to Iran.
June 24, 2010: Congress adopts the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act; tightening U.S. sanctions against firms investing in Iran’s energy sector, extending those sanctions until 2016, and imposing new sanctions on companies that sell refined petroleum to Iran.
July 26, 2010: The EU agrees to further sanctions against Iran. A statement issued by EU member state foreign ministers refers to the new sanctions as “a comprehensive and robust package of measures in the areas of trade, financial services, energy, [and] transport, as well as additional designations for [a] visa ban and asset freeze.
September 16, 2010: The Stuxnet computer virus is first identified by a security expert as a directed attack against an Iranian nuclear-related facility, likely to be the Natanz enrichment plant.
January 21-22, 2011: Following a December meeting in Geneva, the P5+1 meets with Iran in Istanbul, but the two sides do not arrive at any substantive agreement. Iran’s two preconditions for further discussions on a fuel-swap plan and transparency measures, recognition of a right to enrichment and the lifting of sanctions, were rejected by the P5+1.
February 16, 2011: U.S. intelligence officials tell a Senate committee that Iran has not yet decided whether it wants to develop nuclear weapons but is keeping that option open through development of its material capabilities.
May 8, 2011: Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant begins operations and successfully achieves a sustained chain reaction two days later, according to Atomstroyexport, the Russian state-owned company constructing and operating the plant.
June 8, 2011: Iran announces that it intends to triple the rate of 20 percent-enriched uranium production using more-advanced centrifuge designs. It also says it will move production to the Fordow enrichment plant near Qom, which is still under construction.
July 12, 2011: Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov unveils a proposal wherein Iran would take steps to increase cooperation with the IAEA and carry out confidence-building measures in return for a gradual easing of sanctions.
October 21, 2011: EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, sends a letter to Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili calling for “meaningful discussions on concrete confidence-building steps” to address international concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
November 8, 2011: The IAEA releases a report detailing a range of activities related to nuclear weapons development in which Iran is suspected to have engaged as part of a structured program prior to 2004. The report raises concerns that some weapons-related activities occurred after 2003. The information in the report is based primarily on information received from other countries, but also includes information from the agency’s own investigation. The findings appear consistent with the U.S. 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.
December 31, 2011: As part of the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress passes legislation that will allow the United States to sanction foreign banks if they continue to process transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
January 2012: The EU passes a decision that will ban all member countries from importing Iranian oil beginning July 1, 2012. Other provisions of the decision will prevent member countries from providing the necessary protection and indemnity insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil.
January 29-31, 2012: Following an exchange of letters between Iran and the IAEA, it was agreed that an Agency team would travel to Tehran to begin discussions on the IAEA’s investigations into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program laid out in the November 2011 IAEA report.
February 15, 2012: Jalili responds to Ashton’s Oct. 21 letter, while Iran simultaneously announces a number of nuclear advances, including the domestic production of a fuel plate for the TRR.
April 14, 2012: Iran meets with the P5+1 in Istanbul for talks both sides call “positive.” They agree on a framework of continuing negotiations with a step-by-step process and reciprocal actions.
May 23-24, 2012: Iran and the P5+1 meet in Baghdad for a second set of talks.
June 18-19, 2012: Talks between Iran and the P5+1 continue in Moscow. Representatives discuss the substance of a P5+1 proposal and an Iranian proposal. Ashton and Jalili announce that will determine if political-level talks will continue after a technical-level meeting in July.
July 3, 2012: Experts representing the six parties meet in Istanbul to discuss the technical aspects of the P5+1 proposal and the Iranian proposal.
July 24, 2012: Schmid and Bagheri meet in Istanbul to discuss the outcome of the technical level experts meeting and confirm that Ashton and Jalili will talk to determine the future of the negotiations.
August 30, 2012: The IAEA reports that Iran increased the number of centrifuges installed at the Fordow enrichment plant and is continuing to produce uranium enriched to 20 percent in excess of its needs for the Tehran Research Reactor.
September 2012: Ashton and Jalili meet in Istanbul to assess “common points” reached at the low-level expert talks held in early July. The meeting was not considered a formal negotiation.
September 27, 2012: In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu draws a red-line for an Israeli attack on Iran. Netanyahu defines his red-line as Iran amassing enough uranium enriched to 20 percent (approximately 250 kilograms), which, when further enriched, will be enough for one bomb.
November 16, 2012: The IAEA reports that since August, Iran completed installation of the approximately 2,800 centrifuges that Fordow is designed to hold, although the number enriching remains constant. The number of cascades producing 20 percent enriched uranium remains constant at Fordow. The report also notes that Iran installed more centrifuges at Natanz, and continued producing uranium enriched to 20 percent.
February 26, 2013: Iran and the P5+1 resume negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan over Iran's nuclear program. The P5+1 offers Iran an updated proposal based largely on the 2012 package.
April 5-6, 2013: Iran and the P5+1 meet again in Almaty for a second round of talks. At the end of the meetings, negotiators announce that no further meetings are scheduled and the sides remain far apart.
June 3, 2013: At the quarterly meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, Director General Yukiya Amano says that the agency's talks with Iran over clarifying the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program have not made any progress.
June 14, 2013: Hassan Rouhani is elected president of Iran. A former nuclear negotiator, he asserts that Iran will maintain its nuclear program, but offers to be more transparent.
August 6, 2013: Three days after his inauguration, Iran's President Hasan Rouhani calls for the resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on Iran's nuclear program.
September 26, 2013: The P5+1 foreign ministers meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the sidelines on the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. Zarif presents the P5+1 with a new proposal that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry describes as “very different in the vision” of possibilities for the future. Zarif and Kerry meeting for a bilateral exchange after the larger group meeting. Zarif later says he and Kerry move to agree “first, on the parameters of the end game.” Zarif says Iran and the P5+1 will think about the order of steps that need to be implemented to “address the immediate concerns of [the] two sides” and move toward finalizing a deal within a year. The parties agree to meet again on October 15 in Geneva.
September 27, 2013: President Barack Obama calls Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, marking the highest level contact between the U.S. and Iran since 1979. While President Obama says that there will be significant obstacles to overcome, he believes a comprehensive resolution can be reached.
In Vienna, Iran's new envoy to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, meets with IAEA deputy director Herman Nackaerts to resume negotiations on the structured approach to resolving the agency's concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program. Both sides describe the meeting as constructive and agree to meet again on October 28.
October 15-16, 2013: Iran and the P5+1 meet in Geneva to resume negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. At the end of the talks, the parties release a joint statement describing the meetings as "substantive and forward looking." The statement also says that Iran presented a new proposal that the P5+1 carefully considered as an "important contribution" to the talks. The proposal is understood to contain a broad framework for a comprehensive agreement and an interim confidence building measure to be instituted over the next 3-6 months, but no details are given as the parties agreed to keep the negotiations confidential.
Wendy Sherman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, says after the talks that Iran approached the meetings "with a candor" she had not heard in her two years of negotiating with Tehran. The parties agree to meet again November 7-8 in Geneva with an experts level meeting October 30-31.
October 28-29, 2013: Iran meets with the IAEA to continue discussions over the agency's investigations into Iran's past nuclear activities with possible military dimensions. According to a joint statement, Iran presented a new proposal at the talks that contained "practical measures" to "strengthen cooperation and dialogue with a view to future resolution of all outstanding issues." Iran and the IAEA agree to meet again in Tehran on November 11.
November 7-10, 2013: The P5+1 and Iran meet in Geneva to continue negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. On November 8, with the expectation that a deal is close, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flies to Geneva to join the talks, as do the foreign ministers from the other P5+1 countries. The parties fail to reach an agreement on a first-phase deal, but announce that talks will continue on November 20 in Geneva.
Secretary Kerry says in Nov. 10 press conference that the parties "narrowed the differences" and made significant progress toward reaching an agreement during the talks.
November 11, 2013: IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Ali Akbar Salehi meet in Tehran to continue talks on an approach for the agency's investigations into Iran's past nuclear activities with possible military dimensions. Amano and Salehi sign a Framework for Cooperation Agreement. The framework lays out initial practical steps to be take by Iran within three months, including allowing IAEA access to the Heavy Water Production Plant at Arak and the Gchine uranium mine, and providing the agency with information on new research reactors and nuclear power plants that Iran intends to build. The statement commits the parties to cooperation "aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme through the resolution of all outstanding issues that have not already been resolved by the IAEA."
November 20-24, 2013: Iran and the P5+1 meet again in Geneva to continue negotiations. On November 23, the foreign ministers from the P5+1 join the negotiations. Early on November 24, Iranian Minister Javad Zarif and Catherine Ashton, leader of the P5+1 negotiating team, sign an agreement called the Joint Plan of Action. It lays out specific steps for each side in a six-month, first-phase agreement, and the broad framework to guide negotiations for a comprehensive solution.
The first-phase pauses further developments in Iran's nuclear program, rolls back significant elements like the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, and requires more extensive IAEA monitoring and access to nuclear sites. In return, Iran receives limited sanctions relief, repatriation of limited assets frozen abroad, and a commitment that no new nuclear-related sanctions will be imposed on Iran for the duration of the agreement. For more details on the agreement, click here.
The plan will establish a Joint Commission to monitor the agreement and work with the IAEA. The six month period can be extended by mutual consent of both parties.
December 8, 2013: Under the terms of the Framework for Cooperation Agreement the IAEA visits the Arak Heavy Water Production Plant.
December 9-12, 2013: The P5+1 and Iran meet in Geneva at the technical level to begin discussions on the implementation of the Nov. 24 Joint Plant of Action.
December 11, 2013: Iran and the IAEA meet again in Vienna to review progress made on the six actions that Iran agreed to take as part of the Framework for Cooperation Agreement. The parties also begin discussing the next practical steps for Iran to take and initially plan to meet again on Jan. 21 to finalize the measures. The meeting is later postponed at the request of Iran to Feb. 8.
December 30-31, 2013: Technical level discussions between Iran and the P5+1 on implementing the Joint Plan of Action continue in Geneva.
January 9-10, 2014: Iran and the P5+1 meet for a third time in Geneva to discuss implementation. The parties reach an agreement and return to their respective capitals for approval.
January 12, 2014: Iran and the P5+1 announce that implementation of the Joint Plan of Action will begin on Jan. 20.
January 20, 2014: Implementation of the Joint Plan of Action begins. The IAEA issues a report on Iran's compliance with the deal. The report states that Iran is adhering to the terms of the agreement, including, halting enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning to blend down half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent, and halting work on the Arak Heavy Water Reactor. The IAEA also begins more intrusive and frequent inspections.
The United States and the European Union also issue statements saying they have taken the necessary steps to waive the specific sanctions outlined in the Nov. 24 deal and release a schedule of payments for Iran to receive oil money held up in the other countries.
February 9, 2014: Iran and the IAEA meet to discuss further actions for Iran to take under the November 11 framework agreement to resolve the agency’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. They agree on additional actions, including Iran’s past work on exploding bridgewire detonators, one of the past activities with possible military dimensions.
February 17-20, 2014: Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 on the comprehensive agreement begin in Vienna. The parties agree on an agenda and framework to guide the talks
March 17-20, 2014: The P5+1 and Iran meet in Vienna to continue negotiations.
April 7-9, 2014: Another round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 take place in Vienna.
May 13-16, 2014: The P5+1 and Iran begin drafting the comprehensive agreement.
May 21, 2014: Iran and the IAEA announce an additional five actions for Iran to complete before August 25. Two of the activities that Iran agrees to provide information on relate to possible military dimensions.
June 2-6, 2014: At the IAEA board meeting Director General Yukiya Amano says that Iran is complying with the terms of the interim agreement and the agency's investigation into the unresolved concerns about Iran's nuclear program. The agency's quarterly report shows that Iran has neutralized nearly all of its stockpile of 20 percent uranium gas by dilution or conversion to powder form.
June 16-20, 2014: Iran and the P5+1 hold another round of negotiations in Vienna.
July 2-19, 2014: Iran and the P5+1 continue talks in Vienna on a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Early on June 19, the parties announce that they will extend the talks through November 24 and keep the measures agreed to in the interim agreement in place. The parties also announce additional actions that Iran will take, namely converting 25 kg of uranium powder enriched to 20 percent into fuel plates and blending down about 3 tons of uranium enriched to less than 2 percent. The P5+1 will also repatriate $2.8 billion in funds. The parties agree to resume talks in August.
August 25, 2014: Iran misses a deadline to complete actions on five areas of concern to the IAEA as part of the agreement that Iran and the agency reached in November 2013.
September 5, 2014: The IAEA's quarterly report on Iran's nuclear program shows that Iran is complying with the interim deal, but did not provide the IAEA with information about past activities with possible military dimensions (PMDs) by the Aug. 25 deadline.
September 18, 2014: Talks between Iran and the P5+1 resume in New York City on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Both sides say that little progress was made at the end of the talks.
October 14-16, 2014: Iran and the P5+1 meet in Vienna to continue negotiations. Officials say that they remain focused on reaching an agreement by the Nov. 24 deadline and progress was made during the talks.
November 9-10, 2014: Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meet in Muscat, Oman to continue talks. P5+1 lead negotiator Catherine Ashton is also present.
November 18-24, 2014: Iran and the P5+1 meet in Vienna to continue negotiations on an comprehensive agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joins the talks on Nov. 20. French Foreign Minister Fabiusu, British Foreign Secretary Hammond, and German Foreign Minister Steinmeier all join the talks between Nov. 20 and 22. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov arrives on Nov. 23 and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang on Nov. 24.
November 24, 2014: Iran and the P5+1 announce that negotiations will be extended because progress was made on the difficult issues and both sides see a path forward. The parties announce that they now aim to reach a political agreement by March and then complete the technical annexes by June 30. Both sides will continue to implement the conditions of the interim Joint Plan of Action from November 2013. Iran and the P5+1 also make additional commitments.
December 15, 2014: Talks between the P5+1 and Iran continue in Geneva. U.S. State Department officials say the talks are "good and substantive." Parties plan to meet again in January.
December 24, 2014: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says in a letter to his foreign counterparts that Iran’s goal remains to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal that assures the world its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.
January 15-18, 2015: The P5+1 and Iran meet in Geneva to continue negotiations.
January 21, 2015: In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jan. 21, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken says: "We assess that we still have a credible chance of reaching a deal that is in the best interest of America's security, as well as the security of our allies."
January 23-24, 2015: Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman and European Union Political Director Helga Schmid meet again with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi in Zurich, Switzerland.
February 18-20, 2015: Talks between the P5+1 and Iran resume in Vienna.
February 19, 2015: A report by the Director General of the IAEA confirms that Iran is upholding its commitments under the interim deal, including additional provisions from the November 2014 extension. The report notes “Iran has continued to provide the Agency with managed access to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities.”
March 3, 2015: Prime Minister Netanyahu delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress. His speech claims that the Iran deal “would all but guarantee that Iran gets [nuclear] weapons, lots of them.”
March 9, 2015: Senator Tom Cotton and 46 other senators sign an open letter to the Parliament of Iran. The letter warns that any deal reached without legislative approval could be revised by the next president “with the stroke of a pen.”
March 17-20, 2015: Talks between the P5+1 and Iran continue in Lausanne. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, says to reporters "We have made progress on technical issues… One or two issues remain and need to be discussed."
March 25-April 2, 2015: Negotiations continue in Lausanne. By March 29, all of the Foreign Ministers from the seven countries involved and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini are present.
April 2, 2015: Iran and the P5+1 announce agreement on a general framework that outlines the broad parameters of a nuclear deal. The United States issues a more specific factsheet on the details. Iran and the P5+1 agree to continue meeting to finalize a deal before June 30.
April 14, 2015: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passes legislation authored by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that will require the President to submit the deal to Congress for a vote of approval or disapproval. According to the legislation, the President will not be able to waive sanctions during the 30 day Congressional review period.
April 15, 2015: Iran and the IAEA meet in Tehran to continue discussing the agency's investigations into the possibly military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program.
April 27, 2015: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in New York on the sidelines of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. Technical drafting work on the annexes of the agreement is underway.
May 7, 2015: The Senate passes the Corker legislation 98-1 on congressional review of an Iran nuclear deal.
May 12, 2015: EU and Iranian negotiators meet in Vienna to continue drafting a comprehensive agreement.
June 26, 2015: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Vienna to continue negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran and the P5+1. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz joins Kerry.
July 14, 2015: Iran and the P5+1 announce a comprehensive deal. Iran and the IAEA announce a roadmap for the agency's investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program.
July 19, 2015: The Obama administration sends the comprehensive deal and supporting documents to Congress, beginning the 60 day review period mandated by the Iran Nuclear Deal Review Act.
July 20, 2015: The UN Security Council unanimously passes a resolution endorsing the nuclear deal and the lifting of UN Security Council nuclear sanctions once key steps are taken in the deal.
August 15, 2015: The IAEA confirms that Iran submitted documents and explanations to answer the agency's unresolved concerns about past activities that could be related to nuclear weapons development.
September 2, 2015: The 34th Senator announces support for the nuclear deal with Iran, meaning that Congress will not have the support to override a presidential veto on a resolution disapproving of the deal.
September 8, 2015: Four additional Senators announce that they will support the nuclear deal with Iran, bringing the total number to 42. This important milestone will prevent the Senate from reaching the 60 vote threshold required for ending debate and moving to vote on a resolution of disapproval.
September 9, 2015: The IAEA announces that is submitted follow-up questions to Iran based on the information provided by Iran on Aug. 15. The IAEA is ahead of its Sept. 15 deadline to submit the questions.
September 10, 2015: A vote to end debate and move to vote on a resolution of disapproval fails to reach the required 60 votes on the Senate floor. The measure fails 58-42. Four democrats joined the 54 Republicans in favor of moving to vote on the resolution of disaproval. Similar votes fail on Sept. 15 and Sept. 17.
September 11, 2015: A vote on a resolution of approval fails in the House of Representatives, 269-162, with 25 Democrats voting joining the Republicans in voting against the measure.
September 17, 2015: The congressional review period ends without passage of a resolution of approval or a resolution of disapproval.
September 20, 2015: IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Deputy Director General Tero Varjoranta visit the Parchin site at Iran. The IAEA has concerns about Iran conducting explosive activities there relevant to a nuclear device. Amano and Varjoranta confirm that environmental sampling was done at the site under IAEA surveillance and the agency is now testing the samples.
October 4, 2015: A panel of Iranian lawmakers reviewing the JCPOA release their assessment of the deal. The report issued says that the agreement contains some security threats, such as allowing inspectors access to military sites, but should go ahead.
October 10, 2015: Iran tests a medium-range ballistic missile, the Emad. The Emad is a more precise version of the Shahab-3, believed to be capable of carrying a 750 kg payload over 1,700 kilometers. The test is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (2010), which prohibits Iran from testing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
October 10, 2015: Iran's parliament approves a preliminary bill supporting the Iran deal.
October 13, 2015: Iran's parliament approves a detailed bill supporting the Iran deal.
October 14, 2015: Iran's Guardian Council ratifies the bill approved by the parliament, completing Iran's internal review of the agreement.
October 15, 2015: The IAEA announces the activities laid out in the July 14 roadmap for the investigation into the past possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program has been completed. The IAEA aims to complete its report by Dec. 15.
October 18, 2015: Iran and the P5+1 formally adopt the nuclear deal. Iran begins taking steps to restrict its nuclear program. The United States issues waivers on nuclear-related sanctions to come into effect on implementation day. The EU announces it passed legislation to lift nuclear-related sanctions on implementation day.
October 18, 2015: Iran notifies the IAEA of that it will provisionally implement its additional protocol and modified Code 3.1 to its safeguards agreement as of implementation day.
October 19, 2015: The first meeting of the Joint Commission takes place in Vienna. One of the purposes of the meeting is to set up working groups called for under the deal, such as the working group on procurement and the Arak reactor modification.
October 20, 2015: The Supreme Leader issues a statement endorsing the nuclear deal and bill passed by the Iranian parliament.
October 21, 2015: The United States raises Iran's ballistic missile test as a possible violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 at a meeting of the Security Council.
November 21, 2015: Iran tests another medium-range ballistic missile in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929.
December 2, 2015: The IAEA issues its assessment of Iran's past activities related to nuclear weapons development (PMDs). The IAEA assess that Tehran had an organized weapons program prior to 2003 and that some activities continued, although not as an organized effort, through 2009. The report says that the agency has no credible indication that nuclear material was diverted from Iran's declared program or that any activities continued after 2009.
December 15, 2015: The IAEA Board of Governors holds a special meeting to consider the Dec. 2 report on Iran's weaponization activities. The board passes a resolution terminating past resolutions on Iran's nuclear program and ending the investigation. The board requests that the IAEA continue reporting on Iran's nuclear activities under the nuclear deal and report immediately on any concerns that arise with Iran's implementation.
December 28, 2015: Iran announces that it shipped 8.5 tonnes of low-enriched uranium, including the 20 percent enriched material in scrap and waste, out of the country to Russia. In return, Iran receives 140 tonnes of uranium yellowcake.
January 11, 2016: Iranian officials announce that the Arak reactor core is being disabled. Iranian and P5+1 officials say that implementation day is close.
January 16, 2016: The IAEA verifies that Iran met its nuclear related commitments. Based on the IAEA report, Zarif and Mogherini announce implementation day, triggering the lifting of sanctions. UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which the Council passed in July to endorse the deal and trigger the lifting of UN sanctions comes into effect. Prior resolutions on Iran's nuclear program are terminated.
January 17, 2016: The U.S. Treasury Department issues an announcement that new sanctions will be imposed on 11 individuals and entities involved with Iran's ballistic missile programs. U.S. President Barack Obama says that with implementation of the nuclear deal Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons and that "the region, the United States, and the world will be more secure." Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives a speech saying that "Iran's nuclear rights have been accepted by all."
January 26, 2016: Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, says that Iran and China had signed a basic agreement to formalize China’s assistance in redesigning the Arak reactor during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Iran the previous week.
February 11, 2016: Abbas Qaidaari, director of the Defense and Security Studies Department at the Center for Strategic Studies in the Office of the Iranian President, writes in a piece for the Atlantic Council that “Iran’s strategic defense plan currently sees no justification” for missile ranges greater than 2,000-2,300 kilometers. Qaidaari said that although Tehran is committed to developing its “deterrent conventional defense capabilities,” it will limit its ballistic missiles to that range.
February 26, 2016: The IAEA issues its first quarterly report on Iran's post-implementation day nuclear activities. The report notes that Iran is meeting its nuclear obligations, although it slightly exceeded a cap set on the stockpile of heavy water allowed under the agreement. The IAEA notes that Iran had 130.9 metric tons of heavy water, slightly above the 130 metric ton limit set by the deal, but shipped out 20 metric tons on February 24 to stay below the limit.
March 9, 2016: Iran test launches two different variations of the Qadr medium-range ballistic missile.
March 14, 2016: U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power says she raised Iran's ballistic missile tests at a Security Council meeting, saying that the tests are inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
March 15, 2016: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defends Iran's missile launches saying that the missiles are permissible under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 because the missiles are not designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
March 21, 2016: Then-candidate Trump delivers remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference, noting his “number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”
April 22, 2016: Officials from Iran and the United States meet in Vienna, signing a purchase agreement for Washington to buy 32 metric tons of heavy water for $8.6 million. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in New York to discuss implementation of the deal. In remarks after the meeting Kerry says that Washington is working to clarify confusion amongst foreign banks about the sanctions lifted in January.
May 27, 2016: The IAEA issues its quarterly report on Iran's implementation of the nuclear deal. The report shows Iran is abiding by restrictions under the agreement and inspectors have been able to access certain Iranian sites using complimentary access visits.
July 18, 2016: Iran's research and development plan for advanced centrifuge machines, leaked to the AP, is reported on in the press.
July 29, 2016: In a statement, the IAEA notes it sent a letter to Iran denying it was the source of leaked information about Iranian plans for phasing in advanced centrifuges in 2027.
September 8, 2016: The IAEA releases its third quarterly report since JCPOA implementation day, showing Iran continues to abide by its restrictions under the JCPOA. The report notes that Iran removed 96 IR-1 centrifuges from the storage area at Natanz to replace damaged centrifuges that were enriching uranium.
September 21, 2016: The U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control grants Airbus and Boeing permission to sell planes to Iran. The licenses were made possible by sanctions waived as part of the JCPOA.
September 22, 2016: Iran and the P5+1 meet in New York to review progress on JCPOA implementation and the pace of sanctions relief. The meeting marks the first ministerial-level meeting since the announcement of the deal’s implementation in January. Speaking to the UN General Assembly on the same day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expresses concern over the slow pace of sanctions relief and claims the U.S. has been in lack of compliance.
September 26, 2016: Sergei Kireienko, head of Rosatom, the state-run Russian nuclear energy company, announces that Moscow purchased 38 tons of heavy-water from Iran. The material was delivered to Russia in mid-September.
November 2, 2016: IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano expresses concern to Iranian leaders regarding the size of Iran’s heavy water stock. On November 8th, the Agency confirms that Iran’s heavy water stock, at 130.1 tons, exceeds the 130 metric ton limit outlined in the deal, marking the second time Iran has exceeded the limit. On November 9th, Iran informs the IAEA of plans to remain in compliance by transferring heavy water out of the country.
November 8, 2016: Donald Trump is elected as the 45th President of the United States. During the presidential campaign, Trump referred to the JCPOA as the worst deal ever negotiated and pledged to renegotiate it. The U.S.’s European allies in the P5+1 previously signaled they would resist efforts to renegotiate the deal.
November 20, 2016: IAEA releases its fourth quarterly report on Iranian nuclear program since JCPOA implementation day. The report notes that Iran had 130.1 metric tons of heavy water, slightly over the 130 metric tons permitted under the deal. The IAEA report says Iran plans to transfer heavy water out of the country.
December 1, 2016: Congress passes a 10-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), which becomes law on December 15th. Extension of the ISA is consistent with U.S. obligations under the JCPOA, although many of the ISA’s provisions are being waived under Washington’s commitments under the agreement.
December 6, 2016: IAEA verifies that all 11 metric tons of heavy water shipped out of Iran have reached their destination and are in storage, bringing Iran back within the limit on heavy water of 130 metric tons established by the JCPOA.
December 13, 2016: President Rouhani announces Iran will respond to Washington’s extension of the Iran Sanctions Act by researching and developing nuclear propulsion for marine vessels.
December 15, 2016: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reissues sanctions waivers early, on the same day that the ISA renewal comes into effect, to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the JCPOA.
December 18, 2016: IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visits Iran, meeting with President Rouhani and Ali Akhbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. Amano and Salehi discussed issues related to implementation. Further, Amano sought clarification on Iran’s announcement regarding naval nuclear reactor research and development.
December 23, 2016: The IAEA, at the request of Federica Mogherini, circulates decisions made by the Joint Commission set up to oversee implementation of the nuclear deal. The documents contain additional information on hot cells, recovering waste uranium, describing and calculating efficiency for advanced centrifuges, and utilizing the procurement channel.
January 12, 2017: In his confirmation hearing for the position of Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis tells Congress that, while he believes the JCPOA is an imperfect agreement, “when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.” His remarks echo a previous statement in April, when he noted there is “no going back” on the deal absent a clear violation of the agreement.
Iran receives the first shipment in an order of 100 planes purchased from Airbus. Sanctions waived as part of the nuclear deal allow Iran to purchase new commercial aircraft.
January 15, 2017: IAEA verifies that Tehran has taken certain steps to remove infrastructure and excess centrifuges from Fordow within the necessary timeframe required by the JCPOA (one year after Implementation Day). Secretary of Energy Moniz releases a statement noting “Iran successfully met the milestone of removing excess centrifuges and infrastructure from Fordow, demonstrating that the deal continues to limit Iran’s nuclear program so as to provide confidence that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon and maintain at least a one year breakout time.”
January 28, 2017: Iran test fires a medium-range ballistic missile, in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The test prompts former NSA Michael Flynn, on February 1, to declare the United States has placed Iran “on notice.”
February 9, 2017: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini travels to Washington for meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and members of Congress. Mogherini notes that the JCPOA is key for the security of Europe given its geographic proximity to Iran.
February 24, 2017: IAEA releases its first quarterly report on Iranian nuclear activity in 2017, reporting on the size of Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent for the first time. The report notes that the stockpile was 101.7 kilograms. The limit established by the deal is 300 kilograms.
March 23, 2017: Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduces a new Iran sanctions bill, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism.
March 31, 2017: Former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and six former Obama administration officials release an op-ed in Foreign Policy outlining their opposition to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.
April 18, 2017: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a letter to speaker of the House Paul Ryan, certifies to Congress that Iran is compliant in meeting its obligations under the JCPOA.
April 23, 2017: Iran and China resolve a price dispute and complete an agreement to modify Iran’s Arak reactor. China will work with Iran to carry out modifications stipulated by the JCPOA to reduce the reactor’s output of weapons-grade plutonium.
May 16, 2017: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator for the JCPOA, states her opposition to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, noting its potential to undermine the nuclear accord.
May 17, 2017: The U.S. renews sanctions waivers as required by its JCPOA obligations, marking the first time the Trump administration has waived sanctions and taken a proactive step to implement the deal.
May 19, 2017: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is re-elected to a second term. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini congratulates Rouhani on Twitter and reaffirms the EU’s commitment to full JCPOA implementation.
June 15, 2017: Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S.722) passes the Senate by a vote of 98-2. The bill was amended to correct sections that violated the JCPOA, but Iran continued to assert that the bill contradicts the spirit of the deal.
June 20, 2017: The UN Secretary General releases the biannual report on UN Security Council Resolution 2231, affirming that Iran is complying with the JCPOA but raising concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile activity.
July 10, 2017: White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that at the G20 summit, President Trump encouraged foreign leaders not to do business with Iran, which Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif later cited as a failure on the part of the United States to “implement its part of the bargain” in an interview.
July 17, 2017: The Trump administration reluctantly certifies Iran's compliance with the JCPOA, delaying the announcement for hours and issuing new non-nuclear sanctions on Iran the next day.
July 21, 2017: The Joint Commission of the JCPOA meets for the sixth time to address the implementation of the agreement.
July 25, 2017: The U.S. House of Representatives passes H.R. 3364, the Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions Act, which would impose new sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia.
August 31, 2017: In its third quarterly report, the IAEA finds that as of Aug. 21, Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium was 88.4 kg (194.89 pounds), well below a 202.8-kg limit, and the level of enrichment did not exceed a 3.67 percent cap. Iran’s stock of heavy water, stood at 111 tons, below the 130 ton limit.
September 20, 2017: The foreign ministers of China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly for the ministerial meeting of the E3/EU+3 and Iran. In remarks following the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini states that all agreed that all sides are implementing the JCPOA.
September 22, 2017: Iran parades its new medium-range ballistic missile tested in January, the Khoramshahr, with a range of about 2,000 km, in a military parade.
October 13, 2017: Trump declares that, as part of a broader new strategy toward Iran, he will not certify under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) that the suspension of sanctions under the JCPOA is "appropriate and proportionate" to measures taken by Iran under the deal. Trump's decertification itself does not violate the JCPOA. However, decertification opens up a window of 60 days where Congress may re-introduce sanctions waived under the nuclear deal with Iran under an expedited process. In his address, Trump encourages Congress to enact legislation against the JCPOA's "sunset clauses" which set dates after which certain restrictions under the deal on Iran's nuclear program will no longer apply. Trump says if his concerns about the deal are not resolved he will terminate the agreement.
Trump also states that he will further sanction the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for its support for terrorism, but does not designate the group as a terrorist organization.
Immediately following the announcement, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron released a joint statement expressing their continued support for the JCPOA.
November 13, 2017: The IAEA issues its fourth quarterly report for 2017 on Iran's implementation of the JCPOA. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano tells the agency's Board of Governors that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented and that IAEA inspectors have had access to all locations they have needed to visit.
December 13, 2017: The JCPOA Joint Commission meets for the seventh time to oversee the implementation of the agreement.
December 15, 2017: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issues the biannual report on the implementation of Resolution 2231. The report notes that the nuclear deal is being implemented but finds that Iran has violated the arms embargo provisions of Resolution 2231. The report also notes that the secretariat is continuing to investigate allegations that ballistic missiles launched at Saudi Arabia from Yemen were transferred by Iran to the Houthis in violation of 2231. Iran denies the claims.
January 12, 2018: The Trump administration announces that it will re-issue waivers on nuclear-related sanctions on Iran to meet U.S. obligations under the agreement. However, Trump says he will not re-issue the waivers again and will withdraw from the deal unless Congress passes legislation addressing what he describes as flaws in the agreement. Trump says his administration is also engaging with European allies on a supplemental agreement of unlimited duration that would impose sanctions if Iran tests long-range missiles, thwarts inspections, or makes progress toward a nuclear weapon.
January 26, 2018: The UN panel of experts assessing implementation of sanctions on Yemen finds Iran in noncompliance with its obligations under the arms embargo established by Resolution 2216. The report notes that Iran did not take "necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer” of short-range ballistic missiles and other equipment. Iran disputes the report and argues that the evidence is fabricated.
February 22, 2018: The IAEA issues its first quarterly report for 2018 on Iran's implementation of the JCPOA. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano tells the agency's Board of Governors that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented and that IAEA inspectors have had access to all locations they have needed to visit. As of Feb. 12, 2018, the quantity of Iran’s uranium enriched up to 3.67% U-235 was 109.5 kg. The report notes that Iran informed the agency of its intention to pursue naval nuclear propulsion in the future.
March 15, 2018: State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook meets with representatives from the E3 (France, Germany, and the UK) in Berlin to continue discussions on the JCPOA and Trump's demand for a 'supplemental' agreement with the Europeans that addresses sunsets, ballistic missiles, and inspections.
March 16, 2018: The JCPOA Joint Commission meets to oversee implementation of the agreement.
March 19, 2018: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council that the EU is not considering new sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile activities, amid reports that the E3 are developing such measures.
April 11, 2018: Political directors from the E3 (France, Germany, and the UK) and the United States meet in Washington, DC to continue talks on Trump's demand for a supplemental agreement that addresses sunsets, ballistic missiles, and inspections.
April 11, 2018: China and Iran hold a seminar on civil nuclear cooperation under the JCPOA in Beijing.
April 19, 2018: 500 British, French and German parliamentarians urge U.S. members of Congress to help "keep the JCPOA alive" in a letter.
April 24, 2018: U.S. President Trump hosts French President Emmanuel Macron for his first state visit. Macron reports having very frank discussions with Trump about the JCPOA and said that he and President Trump had agreed to work on a "new deal" that keeps the JCPOA, but incorporates additional measures, including on Iranian ballistic missiles.
May 8, 2018: President Trump announces that he is withdrawing the United States from the JCPOA and signs a presidential memorandum to institute the "highest level" of economic sanctions on Iran. In a statement, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin states that sanctions will be reimposed subject to certain 90 day and 180 day "wind-down periods." In an address following Trump's announcement Iranian President Rouhani announces that Iran will continue negotiations with the other states in the agreement in order to try to continue the deal without the United States. British Prime Minister May, German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron re-state their continued commitment to the deal and pledge to work with all parties to make sure its terms are upheld. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini states that the EU is committed to the JCPOA as long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it has so far.
May 15, 2018: EU High Representative Federica Mogherini meets with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, and the three European countries and Iran in two separate meetings to discuss future coordinated work following the U.S. violation of the JCPOA. They agree to "launch intensive expert discussions" to find practical solutions to the following issues in the next few weeks:
- "Maintaining and deepening economic relations with Iran;
- The continued sale of Iran's oil and gas condensate petroleum products and petrochemicals and related transfers;
- Effective banking transactions with Iran;
- Continued sea, land, air and rail transportation relations with Iran;
- The further provision of export credit and development of special purpose vehicles in financial banking, insurance and trade areas, with the aim of facilitating economic and financial cooperation, including by offering practical support for trade and investment;
- The further development and implementation of Memoranda of Understanding and contracts between European companies and Iranian counterparts;
- Further investments in Iran;
- The protection of European Union economic operators and ensuring legal certainty;
- And last but not least, the further development of a transparent, rules-based business environment in Iran."
May 17, 2018: The European Commission meets in Sofia and announces that it will pursue a "blocking statute" to ban European companies and courts from complying with U.S. sanctions against Iran.
May 21, 2018: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presents the Trump administration's new strategy on Iran after the U.S. violation of the JCPOA in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, promising to "apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime" and work with allies to deter Iranian aggression. If the United States were to pursue a new deal, Pompeo lists 12 demands for Iran, including stopping enrichment, ending the proliferation of ballistic missiles and the development of nuclear-capable missile systems and allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency to have "unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country." In exchange, the United States would be prepared to end "the principal components of every one of our sanctions against the regime," as well as re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relationships and allow Iran to have "advanced technology."
May 24, 2018: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran is implementing all nuclear related commitments under the JCPOA in a quarterly report. Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent uranium-235 is 123.9 kg, below the 300 kg limit set by the accord, according to the report. The report notes that Iran is implementing the Additional Protocol but that “timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access would facilitate implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhance confidence.”
June 6, 2018: Iran opens a new facility for centrifuge production, an act which does not violate the JCPOA. Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, tells press June 6 that the decision to open the facility is the “preparatory works for a possible scenario” if the JCPOA fails and reiterated that Iran will not start “any activities contrary to the JCPOA” at this time.
The European Commission adopts an update of the Blocking Statute to include extraterritorial sanctions that the United States re-imposed on Iran and an update of the European Investment Bank (EIB)'s External Lending Mandate to make Iran eligible for investment activities by the EIB. "These measures are meant to help protecting the interests of EU companies investing in Iran and to demonstrate the EU's commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," reads a European Commission press release.
July 6, 2018: The JCPOA Joint Commission meets in Vienna and releases a statement on "the way forward to ensure the continued implementation of the JCPOA in all its aspects following the withdrawal of the United States from the deal."
July 16, 2018: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini confirms at a press conference that the United States refused a request by France, Germany, the UK and the EU to exempt entities doing legitimate business with Iran from U.S. sanctions penalties.
July 18, 2018: Iran's head of the Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, announces that Iran built a new factory to produce rotors for up to 60 IR-6 centrifuges a day. Salehi says building the facility does not violate the JCPOA.
July 26, 2018: Ten Republican Senators write a letter to the French, German, and British ambassadors to the United States urging compliance with the sanctions reimposed by Trump and warning against efforts to block or circumvent the measures. The letter says it would be "particularly troubling if you sought to evade or undermine American statutes" and doing so "could well prompt Congressional action."
August 6, 2018: In a joint statement the EU, French, German, and British foreign ministers say they "deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the US" and note that they are "determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231." They reiterate that preserving the JCPOA is a "matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security."
August 7, 2018: Certain sanctions measures reimposed by Trump May 8 come into full effect. The measures include restricting Iran's purchase of U.S. dollars, trade in gold, precious metals, aluminum, steel, coal, software, and transactions related to sovereign debt and the automotive sector. Licenses allowing certain foodstuffs to be exported to the United States and Iran to purchase commercial aircraft are also revoked.
August 16, 2018: Secretary of State Pompeo announces the creation of the Iran Action Group, responsible for "directing, reviewing, and coordinating all aspects" of the State Department's Iran strategy and led by Brian Hook with the title Special Representative for Iran.
August 22, 2018: Iran says that the UK will help with the re-design of the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor to limit the amount of plutonium byproduct it produces, a task the United States had committed to under the JCPOA.
Sen. Cruz (R-Texas), along with 15 republican senators, sends a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin urging him to take all necessary steps to ensure the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) disconnects the Central Bank of Iran and all other designated Iranian financial institutions.
August 23, 2018: The European Commission adopts an €18 million package for Iran, the first part of a larger €50 million package, including €8 million assistance to the private sector.
August 27-28: The International Court of Justice hears arguments from Iran and the United States on Tehran's allegation that the U.S. reimposition of sanctions violates the 1955 U.S.-Iranian Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations. The United States contends that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
September 12, 2018: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran is implementing all nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA in a quarterly report. Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent uranium-235 is 139.4 kg, below the 300 kg of UF6 limit set by the accord, according to the report. Iran's stock of heavy water is 122.9 metric tons, below the 130 metric ton limit.
September 24, 2018: The foreign ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini meet in New York to discuss the implementation of the JCPOA. The participants decide to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle "to facilitate payments related to Iran's export (including oil) and imports, which will assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran."
September 25, 2018: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the UN General Assembly in New York. "Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction," he says, adding that many countries in the Middle East supported his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA and reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. "Additional sanctions will resume November 5th, and more will follow. And we’re working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially.... We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues. And we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny."
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, U.S. Speical Representative for Iran Brian Hook, and representatives from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, UAE and Israel attend the United Against Nuclear Iran summit. Pompeo unveiled a new report by the State Department's Iran Action Group which chronicles "Iran's destructive activities." In his remarks, Bolton warns "there will be hell to pay" if Iran doesn't change its behavior.
September 26, 2018: U.S. President Donald Trump chairs a summit-level UN Security Council meeting, officially about WMD non-proliferation, but which he tweeted would be about Iran. While Trump criticizes the JCPOA in the meeting, nearly every other leader in the council expresses support for the accord and encourages Iran to continue to comply.
September 27, 2018: In his address to the UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reveals what he describes as a secret nuclear warehouse “storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.” Netanyahu also called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano to “do the right thing” and inspect the warehouse “immediately” before Iran finished clearing it out. He charged that Iran removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material from the warehouse in August, but did not specify if the material was uranium, plutonium, or another radioactive source. One intelligence official quoted in Reuters says that the facility has been known to the U.S. intelligence community for some time and it is full of documents, not nuclear equipment. The official says that “so far as anyone knows, there is nothing in it that would allow Iran to break out” of the nuclear deal any faster.
October 2, 2018: IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano says in a statement that the agency does not take any information at “face value.” While Amano did not mention Netanyahu directly, he said that all material, including that received from third parties, is subject to a rigorous and independent assessment. Amano said the IAEA’s nuclear verification work “must always be impartial, factual, and professional” and that the agency’s independence is “of paramount importance.”
October 3, 2018: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules unanimously that the United States “must remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments” to the export of food, agricultural products, medicine, aircraft parts, and other humanitarian goods. The 15-member panel concludes that Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran was unfounded given Tehran’s compliance with the JCPOA, but the court did not order the United States to remove all sanctions or compensate Iran for damages.
November 5, 2018: The second round of sanctions on Iran following Trump's withdrawal from the JCPOA, targeting Iran's banking, oil, shipping and ship-building sectors, come back into effect. In addition to redesignating entities removed from the SDN list under the JCPOA, United States designates an additional 300 new entities. The administration grants temporary waivers to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey to continue importing Iranian oil at reduced levels, as well as waivers to allow nonproliferation projects at Arak, Bushehr and Fordow to continue.
November 22, 2018: The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related committments. The IAEA's quarterly report finds that Iran's stockpile of heavy water is 122.8 metric tons, below the 130-ton limit and that Iran's stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent uranium-235 is 149.4 kilograms, below the 300-kilogram limit.
November 26-27, 2018: EU and Iranian officials meet in Brussels for the third High-Level Summit on International Nuclear Cooperation. The EU and Iran review past nuclear cooperation projects and discuss ongoing modifications of the Arak reactor and conversion of the Fordow facility to a research site.
December 12, 2018: The UN Security Council meets to discuss the biannual UN Secretary-General report on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The report welcomes Iran's implementation of its nuclear-related commitments "in the face of considerable challenges" from the U.S. withdrawal of the JCPOA. The report also notes Iranian activities that might violate the ballistic transfer provision in the resolution. At the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces that the United States will work with other UN Security Council members to reimpose on Iran the ballistic missile restrictions outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 1929.
January 15, 2019: Iran attempts to launch a satellite using its Simorgh launch vehicle, but the satellite fails to enter orbit. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo characterizes the launch as “continued defiance of the international community and UN Security Council Resolution 2231," although the launch does not violate the resolution.
January 29, 2019: The annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community assesses that "Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device." It adds that "Iran’s continued implementation of the JCPOA has extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about one year."
January 30, 2019: IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano reiterates that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related obligations under the JCPOA and states that attempts to "micro-manage or put pressure on the agency in nuclear verification" are "counter-productive and extremely harmful" in remarks to the IAEA staff. Although Amano doesn't name who was putting pressure on the agency, he is likely referencing Israeli and U.S. efforts to persuade the IAEA to investigate what they deem a "secret atomic warehouse" in Iran, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described in his September UN General Assembly speech.
January 31, 2019: Germany, France and the United Kingdom establish a "special purpose vehicle" to facilitate transactions for non-sanctioned trade with Iran, called the "Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges" (INSTEX).
February 13-14, 2019: The United States and Poland host a ministerial summit on the Middle East in Warsaw where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence explicitly calls on “our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.” Several European foreign ministers boycott the summit.
March 6, 2019: The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments. The IAEA's quarterly report finds that Iran's stockpile of heavy water is 124.8 metric tons, below the 130-ton limit and that Iran's stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent uranium-235 is 163.8 kilograms, below the 300-kilogram limit.
The JCPOA Joint Commission also meets in Vienna March 6 and all parties reiterate their commitment to the full implementation of the JCPOA.
March 19, 2019: Iran announces that it registered its counterpart to the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX).
March 22, 2019: The U.S. Treasury Department designates 31 Iranian entities and individuals for past involvement in Iran’s nuclear weapons program under an executive order targeting the proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.
April 8, 2019: The United States designates the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
April 9, 2019: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announces that Iran will install a cascade of 20 IR-6 centrifuges at Natanz.
April 22, 2019: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces that the United States will not issue any additional sanctions waivers for states to continue importing Iranian oil on May 2.
May 3, 2019: The United States announces that it will extend waivers to allow certain nuclear cooperation projects in Iran to proceed, but end others. The United States extends waivers for the Arak reactor conversion, the Fordow facility conversion, the Bushehr nuclear reactor and the Tehran research reactor for 90 days, but ends waivers for the transfer of enriched uranium out of Iran, the transfer and storage of heavy water outside of Iran and the construction of additional reactor units at Bushehr.
May 5, 2019: U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton announces that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force are being deployed to the U.S. Central Command region to "send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” Some news outlets report that officials in the intelligence community claim Bolton is exaggerating the threat posed by Iran.
May 8, 2019: Iran announces that it will no longer be bound by stockpiles limitations on enriched uranium and heavy water reserves in the JCPOA and could restart construction on its unfinished heavy water reactor at Arak and resume higher level enrichment in the future if the other parties to the agreement do not deliver on sanctions relief. In late April, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told state broadcaster IRIB that Iran was considering leaving the NPT as one of Iran's numerous choices.
The United States also announces new sanctions targeting Iran's industrial metal exports.
May 9, 2019: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the French, German and UK foreign ministers urge Iran to continue to meet its commitments under the JCPOA and reject "any ultimatums" in a joint statement. The leaders also urge countries not party to the JCPOA "to refrain from taking any actions that impede the remaining parties' ability to fully perform their commitments."
May 20, 2019: Iran announces it will quadruple uranium enrichment output at Natanz and says it will soon surpass the 300 kilogram limit on uranium gas enriched to 3.67 percent set by the deal.
June 3, 2019: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States is willing to engage with Iran with no preconditions.
June 6, 2019: Russian President Vladimir Putin says there has not been "a single violation" of the JCPOA by Iran.
June 10, 2019: IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano tells the agency's Board of Governors that he is "worried about increasing tensions over the Iranian nuclear issue." He says the JCPOA represents a "significant gain for nuclear verification" and says full implementation is essential. The IAEA's report on Iran's implementation of the deal finds that Iran's stockpile of heavy water was 125 metric tons, below the 130 ton limit, and that the low-enriched uranium stockpile was 174 kilograms, below the 202 kilogram limit (which is equivalent to 300 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride gas). The report notes that Iran has installed 33 IR-6 advanced centrifuges and says there are technical discussions over the IR-6 ongoing. The report notes that inspectors have had access to all sites and locations they have requested to visit.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travels to Tehran and says Germany will not accept a "less-for-less" agreement on implementation of the JCPOA. An INSTEX delegation travels with Maas to discuss efforts process transactions using the channel.
June 11, 2019: U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Jackie Wolcott says that Iran is "reported to be in clear violation of the deal," citing the number of IR-6 centrifuges installed.
June 12-13, 2019: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Tehran and delivers a message from U.S. President Donald Trump to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei says Trump is "not deserving to exchange messages with" and says he will not send a response. Khamenei says that there is no sense in negotiating with the United States after Trump has "thrown away everything that was agreed upon."
June 13, 2019: The United States accuses Iran of attacking two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denies that it is behind the attack.
June 17, 2019: Iran announces it will breach the 300 kilogram limit on uranium gas enriched to 3.67 percent within 10 days.
June 20, 2019: Iran shoots down a U.S. surveillance drone. Iran claims the drone was in Iranian airspace. The United States says the drone was in international airspace.
June 24, 2019: The United States sanctions the Supreme Leader of Iran and his office.
June 26, 2019: The UN Secretary General's office briefs the UN Security Council on his biannual report assessing the implementation of Resolution 2231. The report expresses regret for the U.S. decision not to renew waivers on nuclear nonproliferation projects and says U.S. actions are "contrary to the goals" of the nuclear deal. The report also expresses regret over Iran's May 8 announcement that Tehran will no longer be bound by the deal's limits on heavy water and low-enriched uranium. The report notes that the Secretary General's office investigated several interdicted shipments of conventional arms and missiles, as well as missile debris, and determined that in several cases that components originated in Iran, but was unable to determine if the transfers took place before or after Resolution 2231 came into effect in January 2016.
June 28, 2019: The JCPOA's Joint Commission meets in Vienna. The chair's statement says that INSTEX transactions are being processed and that there has been positive progress on the conversion of the Arak and Fordow facilities. The statement says that experts will looking to solutions for Iran to transfer heavy water and low-enriched uranium out of Iran now that the United States is sanctioning those actions.
Seven European states issue a statement reiterating their support for the JCPOA and their intention to participate in INSTEX.
July 1, 2019: Iran announces that it breached the 300 kilogram limit on uranium gas enriched to 3.67 percent (202 kilograms of uranium by weight). The IAEA confirms that Iran has exceeded the limit. The White House issues a statement saying that "maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue until its leaders alter their course of action" and that the United States "must restore the longstanding nonproliferation standard of no enrichment for Iran."
July 2, 2019: The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom and the EU High Representative issue a statement expressing regret for Iran's decision to breach the limit on low-enriched uranium. The ministers state that "we have been consistent and clear that our commitment to the nuclear deal depends on full compliance by Iran" and state that they are "urgently considering next steps under the terms of the JCPOA."
July 7, 2019: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweets that Iran will exceed the 3.67 percent uranium-235 enrichment limit designated by the JCPOA, adding that Iran’s breaches of the JCPOA are “remedial” and in response to U.S. “economic terrorism.” Iran shares its new enrichment plans with the IAEA.
July 8, 2019: Iran tells the IAEA it has enriched uranium to “about 4.5 percent” uranium-235 at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant. The Agency releases a report confirming Iran has exceeded the 3.67 percent enrichment cap set by the nuclear deal. Speaking to reporters, U.S. President Donald Trump warns “Iran better be careful.”
July 31, 2019: The U.S. State Department issues a 90-day renewal on sanctions waivers to allow certain nuclear cooperation and nonproliferation projects to continue in Iran
The United States sanctions Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for acting on behalf of the Supreme Leader.
August 24-26, 2019: At the G-7 Summit in France, French President Emmanuel Macron offers a $15 billion credit line to Tehran in exchange for its return to compliance with the JCPOA. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also attends the summit.
At a joint press conference with Macron, U.S. President Donald Trump suggests there is a “really good chance” of a meeting between American and Iranian officials.
August 30, 2019: The IAEA confirms that Iran continues to exceed the 300 kilogram stockpile limit on enriched uranium (correlating to 202.8 kilograms of uranium) and the 3.67 percent enrichment cap established by the JCPOA and reports that Iran has amassed 241.6 kilograms uranium, including 25.1 kilograms uranium enriched to 4.5 percent U-235. The Agency notes that Iran continues to implement the Additional Protocol and comply with IAEA inspectors.
September 3, 2019: The U.S. Treasury sanctions the Iran Space Agency and two affiliated research institutes under an executive order directed at proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.
September 4, 2019: The U.S. Treasury sanctions a shipping network linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force and Hezbollah, condemning Iran for its “provocative actions to destabilize the region and the world.”
September 5, 2019: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announces a third breach of the JCPOA, stating “all of our commitments for research and development under the JCPOA will be completely removed by Friday,” and adding that Iran’s activities will remain under IAEA supervision.
September 7, 2019: Iran tells the IAEA that it plans to install and test additional advanced centrifuges with natural uranium at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant. The Agency verifies installation of 22 IR-4, one IR-5, and 33 IR-6 centrifuges.
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi announces that technicians have introduced UF6 to cascades of 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges, exceeding the number of machines permitted in a cascade under the research and development terms of the JCPOA at that time. Kamalvandi adds that Iran may soon withdraw enriched uranium from its advanced centrifuges and add it to the stockpile of low enriched uranium in breach of the JCPOA.
September 8, 2019: Iran notifies the IAEA of its intention to reinstall equipment needed for additional centrifuge cascades in its pilot plant at Natanz. The Agency verifies preparation for and installation of piping and header connections.
IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, and other officials in Tehran to discuss implementation of the Agency’s nuclear safeguards. Feruta states that the IAEA’s work requires “full and timely cooperation by Iran.”
September 9, 2019: IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta delivers the opening statement at the Agency’s Board of Governors’ September meeting. He reiterates the importance of Iranian cooperation with IAEA inspections and safeguards implementation and asks that Iran “respond promptly to Agency questions related to the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations.”
At a press conference in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reveals an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons site. Netanyahu claims the site, located near the Iranian city Abadeh, was used to “conduct experiments to develop nuclear weapons,” but was destroyed after Tehran learned of Israel’s discovery.
September 10, 2019: The U.S. State Department reports that President Trump may meet Iranian President Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly in New York with “no preconditions.”
September 14, 2019: A drone and cruise missile strike damages a Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia.
September 16, 2019: The Trump Administration blames Iran for the strike on the Saudi Aramco facility after U.S. intelligence findings implicate Iran in the attack.
September 17, 2019: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei delivers a speech saying “no negotiation whatsoever will be conducted between officials of the Islamic Republic and the Americans” unless the United States comes back into compliance with the JCPOA.
September 18, 2019: Officials in Saudi Arabia claim Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi critical oil infrastructure.
September 20, 2019: The United States deploys additional troops to Saudi Arabia in response to the Aramco attack. Announcing the deployment, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper condemns Iran for the Sept. 14 attack on the Aramco facility.
The U.S. Treasury imposes new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, the National Development Fund of Iran, and the Etemad Tejarate Pars Co., an Iranian company implicated in concealing the military’s financial transactions.
September 23, 2019: The United Kingdom, France, and Germany release a statement condemning Iran for the Sept. 14 strike on the Saudi Aramco oil facility.
September 24, 2019: President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and threatens to continue the maximum pressure sanctions campaign on Iran if its “menacing behavior” continues.
French President Emmanuel Macron meets separately with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Macron attempts to set up a call with both leaders to discuss his proposal for preserving the JCPOA, but Rouhani decides not to participate.
Rouhani later delivers an interview on Fox News and reiterates that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons.
September 25, 2019: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announces that Iran will not engage in negotiations while under sanctions and affirms that talks with the United States will only begin if all parties return to compliance with the JCPOA.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech at the United Against Nuclear Iran annual summit, criticizing Iran’s behavior in the region and calling the Saudi Aramco attack an “act of war.” Pompeo announces the imposition of secondary sanctions on Chinese entities implicated in importing Iranian oil.
The White House issues a proclamation suspending entry of senior Iranian government officials to the United States, calling Iran’s government a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
September 24, 2019: Iran begins constructing centrifuge rotor tubes using carbon fiber material not subject to continuous IAEA surveillance, the Agency reports.
September 25, 2019: Iran alerts the IAEA of four additional cascades being configured at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant: one of 20 IR-2m centrifuges, one of 10 IR-5 centrifuges, one of 20 IR-6s centrifuges, and one of 164 IR-6 centrifuges.
The IAEA confirms that the centrifuge cascades already installed at Natanz “[are] accumulating, or have been prepared to accumulate, enriched uranium.”
The IAEA also verifies that Iran continues to install additional cascades of 164 IR-4 and 164 IR-2m centrifuges at Natanz.
October 2, 2019: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani corroborates a report that, with the support of French President Emmanuel Macron, he and President Trump had agreed upon a four-point document at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
The document outlines a lifting of re-imposed U.S. sanctions in exchange for Iran’s agreement to remain a non-nuclear weapons state in perpetuity and to pursue negotiations on regional peace. The agreement also allows Iran to exert full autonomy over its oil exports and revenue.
October 8, 2019: Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, announces that Iran will increase its uranium enrichment capacity using 30 IR-6 centrifuges.
October 14, 2019: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announces at a press conference that Iran is operating IR-6, IR-4 and IR-2 centrifuges and will soon begin operating an IR-9 centrifuge.
October 24, 2019: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araqchi meets Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov in Moscow to discuss the JCPOA. Araqchi says "the Islamic Republic of Iran always welcomes any idea and initiative that can contribute to the peaceful resolution of the crisis," but reiterates Tehran's threat to further breach the nuclear accord if "Iran's demands are not met."
October 31, 2019: The U.S. State Department issues a 90-day renewal of sanctions waivers on certain nuclear cooperation projects in Iran, but it remains unclear which waivers are renewed. As of July 2019, the Trump administration waived sanctions to allow for China, Russia, and the European members of the JCPOA to continue certain nonproliferation activities mandated by the nuclear deal, including conversion of Iran's Arak reactor and Fordow enrichment facility, the transfer of 20 percent enriched uranium fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the removal of spent fuel from the Buesher reactor. The July 2019 waivers expired in October.
November 4, 2019: Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, announces that Iran is operating 60 IR-6 centrifuges. Salehi adds that Iran is enriching uranium to 4.5 percent U-235 and that its low enriched uranium stockpile totals over 500 kilograms, breaching the 3.67 percent enrichment cap and 300-kilogram stockpile limit designated by the JCPOA.
November 5, 2019: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announces that Iran will begin injecting UF6 into 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges at the Fordow facility on November 6.
November 6, 2019: Spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi announces that of the 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges at Fordow, 696 machines will be configured into four cascades and used to enrich uranium up to 5 percent U-235. According to Kamalvandi, the other 348 centrifuges will be used for production of stable isotopes.
Iranian newspapers report the transfer of 2,000 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) to the Fordow facility.
November 7, 2019: Acting-Director General Cornel Feruta convenes a special meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors and reported that the agency “detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency.”
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo issues a press statement condemning Iran’s “latest nuclear escalations,” warning that Tehran may be preparing for “rapid nuclear breakout,” and calling on the international community to increase pressure on Iran.
November 10, 2019: Iranian officials announce that Iran has taken a step on construction of the planned nuclear reactor and begun pouring concrete for the unit at Bushehr. Officials add that uranium enriched to 4.5 percent uranium-235 may be used to fuel the reactor.
November 11, 2019: France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union issue a joint statement warning that Iran’s recent decision to begin uranium enrichment at the Fordow facility has “potentially severe proliferation implications” and “represents a regrettable acceleration of Iran’s disengagement from commitments under the [JCPOA]”. Additionally, the E3 “affirm [their] readiness to consider all mechanisms in the JCPoA, including the dispute resolution mechanism, to resolve the issues related to Iran’s implementation of its JCPoA commitments.”
The IAEA verifies that Iran has amassed 372.3 kilograms of enriched uranium, comprised of 212.6 kilograms uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) enriched to 3.67 percent uranium-235 and 159.7 kilograms UF6 enriched to 4.5 percent uranium-235. Under the JCPOA, Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile is limited to 300 kilograms UF6 enriched to 3.67 percent, which equates to 202.8 kilograms enriched uranium. The IAEA also confirms installation and testing of a variety of advanced centrifuges, including of an IR-8, an IR-s, and an IR-9 centrifuge, and reports that Iran shared it would use all advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment and accumulation once testing is complete. The IAEA further reports that Iran has begun feeding uranium into two cascades of IR-1 centrifuges at the Fordow facility.
November 18, 2019: The IAEA verifies that Iran’s heavy water stockpile has reached 131.5 metric tons, exceeding the 130 metric ton limit designated by the JCPOA.
The United States announces it will no longer waive sanctions related to Iran’s Fordow facility and the existing waiver will terminate Dec. 15.
November 25, 2019: Iran and the IAEA agree to cooperate on four nuclear projects, including nuclear security and waste management.
The U.S. Department of Defense boards a ship in the Arabian Sea and discovers a cache of weapons, including advanced missile components. The Pentagon says that the weapons appear to be of Iranian origin and were being transferred in violation of Resolution 2231.
November 30, 2019: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden join the INSTEX mechanism designed to circumvent U.S. financial sanctions and to allow companies to trade with Iran without penalty.
December 1, 2019: Ali Larijani, Speaker for the Iranian Parliament, warns during a press conference that if remaining members of the JCPOA trigger a dispute resolution mechanism and reinstate sanctions, “Iran would be forced to seriously consider some of its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
December 5, 2019: The Russian company Rosatom announces it will suspend cooperation with Iran on the Fordow facility as required by the JCPOA, claiming that “uranium enrichment and the production of stable isotopes cannot be carried out in the same room.”
December 10, 2019: The UN Secretary General releases the biannual report on implementation of Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA. The report states that the Secretariat continues to investigate alleged Iranian violations of missile and arms restrictions put in place by Resolution 2231. The report notes that no proposals for exporting dual-use goods to Iran have been submitted to the procurement channel and that the U.S. decision to end waivers for nonproliferation projects are “contrary to the goals” of the JCPOA and “may also impede the ability” of Iran to meet its JCPOA obligations.
December 16, 2019: Iran confirms that a “technical problem” is the reason for Russia’s suspending cooperation at Fordow.
January 2, 2020: The U.S. Department of Defense publishes a press release claiming responsibility for the targeted killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, who led the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force. According to the release, “the strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
January 5, 2020: The Iranian Cabinet releases a statement announcing that Iran will no longer adhere to JCPOA restrictions on uranium enrichment and that Iran will abandon the “last key operational restriction on the number of centrifuges.” The statement says Iran’s nuclear program going forward will be based on “technical needs.”
Tweeting the announcement, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif calls the violation Iran’s “5th & final REMEDIAL step.” Zarif reiterates that all of Iran’s violations are “reversible upon EFFECTIVE implementation of reciprocal obligations” under the JCPOA and reminds that Iran will continue to cooperate fully with the IAEA.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russian Permanent Representative to the IAEA, tweets that Iran’s announcement to continue compliance with the IAEA was of “paramount importance.”
January 6, 2020: French President Macron, German Chancellor Merkel, and British Prime Minister Johnson release a joint statement condemning Iran’s fifth breach and urging Iran to “reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPOA.”
French Foreign Minister Le Drian reports that the European members of the JCPOA are considering launching the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, which could incur a snapback of United Nations sanctions that were lifted in accordance with the deal. “The repeated violations leave us today asking about the long-term validity of this (nuclear) accord,” Le Drian says.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Fontelles says that preserving the JCPOA is “crucial for global security” and that “full implementation” by all parties is “now more important than ever.”
Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, at a press conference, advocates for preservation of the JCPOA and stresses that “the hard-won JCPOA, endorsed and adopted by the UN Security Council, is an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy.” The spokesperson reminds that Iran “has not violated its obligations under the NPT.”
Mahmoud Sadeghi, member of Iranian Parliament, reports he will put a bill forward for Iran’s withdrawal from the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty.
January 7, 2020: French President Macron, in a phone call, urges Iranian President Rouhani to “swiftly return to full compliance with [Iran’s] commitments under the JCPOA.”
January 10, 2020: The Foreign Ministers representing European members of the JCPOA hold an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss Iran's recent breach of the nuclear accord.
January 14, 2020: The E3 (UK, France, Germany) trigger the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, stating their intent to“[find] a way forward to resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue, while preserving the agreement and remaining within its framework.” The dispute resolution mechanism process, if referred to the UN Security Council, has the potential to result in the re-imposition of UN sanctions on Iran that were lifted in accordance with the 2015 deal. However, the E3 reminded “our 3 countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran.”
A comment released by the Russian Foreign Ministry calls the E3 trigger of the dispute resolution mechanism “profoundly disappointing and of serious concern.”
January 15, 2020: Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang condemns the E3 trigger of the dispute resolution mechanism and says Chinese officials “don’t believe that it well help solve any problem or ease any tensions.”
At a press briefing, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin expresses the administration’s support for efforts to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism, adding that the Trump administration “[looks] forward to working with [Europe] quickly and would expect that U.N. sanctions will snap back into place.”
January 16, 2020: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announces that Iran has exceeded pre-JCPOA levels of enriched uranium production.
January 20, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says that Iran will withdraw from the NPT if Iran is referred to the Security Council through the dispute resolution mechanism triggered by the Europeans to address Iran’s breaches of the JCPOA.
January 24, 2020: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell Fontelles, announcesthe extension of the 15-day period designated for members of the JCPOA Joint Commission (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, the EU, and Iran) to resolve issues of non-compliance within the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism. The E3 triggered the dispute resolution mechanism on Jan. 14, and the 15-day period for discussions within the Joint Commission can be extended by consensus, in theory indefinitely.
(For more on the dispute resolution mechanism, see EXPLAINER: The Dispute Resolution Mechanism.)
January 30, 2020: The Swiss embassy in Tehran announces that a channel for facilitating humanitarian transactions facilitated a trial transaction involving the sale of cancer medicine to Iran. The embassy states that the payment mechanism will soon be operational for transactions involving food, medical exports, and pharmaceuticals.
January 31, 2020: The United States announces it will renew, for sixty days, four waivers that allow for European, Russian, and Chinese companies to continue work on cooperative non-proliferation projects with Iran. The United States also imposes new sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and its director, Ali Akbar Salehi.
Responding to the U.S. designation, the AEOI tweets that the sanctions “will not in any way interrupt (Iran’s) peaceful nuclear activities and policies.”
February 4, 2020: Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, reiterates at a press conference in Tehran the EU willingness to preserve the JCPOA. He said that the European parties to the deal agreed to “continuously postponing the dates and time limits” of the dispute resolution mechanism to avoid Security Council referral.
February 5, 2020: IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi tells reporters in Washington, DC that Iran has not taken further steps to breach the JCPOA, and that Iran continues to comply with its safeguards obligations mandated by the deal.
February 9, 2020: Iran attempts to place the Zafar-1 satellite into orbit using its three-stage Simorgh launch vehicle, but the launch fails. A spokesman for the Iranian Defense Ministry says the Simorgh “took [the] Zafar satellite into space with success, but the carrier failed to reach the speed needed to get the satellite into the designated orbit.”
At a press conference in Tehran, the Commander of the Iranian military’s Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, unveils a new short-range ballistic missile called the Ra’ad 500.
February 23, 2020: In an interview with The Washington Free Beacon, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says the Trump Administration will decide in the near future whether to further strengthen its sanctions campaign against Iran. He says the Trump administration may pursue the re-imposition of UN sanctions on Iran and end all sanctions waivers that allow for continued nonproliferation cooperation projects in Iran.
February 26, 2020: The Joint Commission of the JCPOA (the E3, EU, Russia, China, and Iran) meets in Vienna to discuss Iranian non-compliance with the nuclear deal and the status of sanctions relief. There, participants reaffirm their commitment to preserving the multilateral agreement, support for the INSTEX trading mechanism, and backing of ongoing nonproliferation cooperation projects in Iran.
March 3, 2020: The IAEA reports that Iran’s stockpile has exceeded 1,000 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 4.5 percent, and that Iran is enriching uranium using additional centrifuges at the Fordow facility.
The IAEA releases a second report detailing Iran’s noncompliance with the Agency’s investigation into three locations possibly associated with Iran’s nuclear-related activities. According to the IAEA, Iran has not responded to three separate letters from the Agency requesting additional information and access.
March 9, 2020: At the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Director-General Rafael Grossi notes that “the Agency has not observed any changes to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA” following Tehran’s Jan. 5 announcement that it is not bound by “any restrictions” of the deal. Grossi adds that the IAEA is continuing its inquiry into three locations possibly connected to undeclared nuclear activity in Iran.
March 27, 2020: The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announces that a new generation of centrifuges will be installed at the Natanz enrichment facility, and will likely be displayed April 8.
March 30, 2020: The U.S. Department of State announces the renewal of four waivers that allow for nonproliferation cooperation projects on Iran’s Bushehr reactor, Arak heavy water reactor, and Tehran research reactor to continue for an additional sixty days.
March 31, 2020: France, Germany, and the United Kingdom report that the INSTEX trading mechanism has completed its first transaction, and that necessary medical supplies were exported from Europe to Iran.
April 8, 2020: Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announces that Tehran planned to display 122 new nuclear achievements on the country’s National Nuclear Day, which was scheduled for April 8 but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kamalvandi says that Iran is producing 60 new advanced centrifuges each day, and that it plans to significantly increase its enriched uranium output.
April 22, 2020: Iran launches its first military satellite using a new space-launch vehicle (SLV), the Qased. In doing so, Iran also reveals the existence of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps- run military space program that operates in parallel to the country’s civilian space program.
April 25, 2020: U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo states in a press conference that “Iran’s space program is neither peaceful nor entirely civilian,” and he condemns the April 22 satellite launch. Pompeo calls on other countries to join the United States in rejecting Iran’s “development of ballistic-missile capable technologies” and constraining the country’s missile program.
April 29, 2020: Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant is refueled, as scheduled.
April 30, 2020: In a State Department briefing, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, comments on the Trump administration’s plan to prevent the October 2020 expiration of a UN embargo that blocks arms sales to and from Iran. The embargo’s expiration date is written into UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Hook says that the administration is prepared to use “every diplomatic option available” to extend the embargo, including by making a legal argument that the United States remains a participant of the nuclear deal in order to exercise a Security Council provision to instate the UN embargo indefinitely.
In an interview, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell says that, for the European parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, “it’s quite clear for us that the U.S. are no longer a participating member in this agreement.”
May 4, 2020: Over three-quarters of members in the U.S. House of Representatives sign on to a Foreign Affairs Committee letter addressed to Secretary Pompeo that calls on the Trump administration to extend the UN arms embargo through diplomatic means.
In a statement, co-sponsor of the letter and Chairman of the Committee, Elliot Engel (D-NY) says that “this letter, supported overwhelmingly by both parties in the House, represents an imperative to reauthorize this provision – not through snapback or going it alone, but through a careful diplomatic campaign.”
May 9, 2020: U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo remarks on the two-year anniversary of the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and says that “the United States will exercise all diplomatic options to ensure the UN embargo is extended.”
May 12, 2020: Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, says that the United States has “no right to trigger” the snapback mechanism included in Resolution 2231 to extend the arms embargo. According to Nebenzia, “Snapback will definitely be the end of the JCPOA… The most intrusive inspections of a country by the IAEA will cease.” Nebenzia says that he does “not see any reason why an arms embargo should be imposed on Iran.”
May 13, 2020: Brian Hook, who serves as the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, publishes an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal claiming that “if the U.N. doesn’t renew the arms embargo against Iran, the U.S. will use its authority to do so.” Hook outlines the Trump administration’s preference for a standalone Security Council resolution extending the arms embargo but states that “the United States retains the right to renew the arms embargo by other means,” namely through Security Council Resolution 2231.
May 14, 2020: China’s permanent mission to the United Nations tweets that “the US failed to meet its obligations under Resolution 2231 by withdrawing from the [JCPOA]. It has no right to extend an arms embargo on Iran, let alone to trigger snapback. Maintaining the JCPOA is the only right way moving forward.”
May 27, 2020: U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announces the United States will terminate sanctions waivers that allow for nonproliferation cooperation projects to continue in Iran. These waivers cover the conversion of the Arak reactor, the provision of enriched fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the export of Iran’s spent fuel. Pompeo notes the waivers will expire after a sixty-day wind down period and clarifies that the waiver covering international support for Iran’s Bushehr reactor will remain in place but can be revoked at any time.
June 5, 2020: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases two new reports – one on the Agency’s verification and monitoring in Iran pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2231 and the JCPOA, and one on Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement with the Agency. The former finds that Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium continues to exceed limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal. The latter lists three sites where possible undeclared nuclear activities may have taken place before 2003, when Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program, and notes that Iran has failed to comply with IAEA requests for access to two of the sites.
June 8, 2020: The United States sanctions Iranian shipping entities for “repeatedly transport[ing] items related to Iran’s ballistic missile and military programs.”
June 11, 2020: The United Nations Secretary-General releases a regular report on implementation of Resolution 2231, which supports the 2015 nuclear deal and modifies UN sanctions on Iran. The report lists several instances of possible Iranian non-compliance with the arms-related and ballistic missile transfer-related provisions of the resolution.
The Republican Study Committee – the conservative caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives – releases a report that recommends actions to be taken by the Trump administration to strengthen the U.S. maximum pressure campaign on Iran, among other things. The report suggests extending the UN arms embargo indefinitely and applying additional sanctions on Iran.
June 15, 2020: At a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, Director-General Grossi notes “serious concern” about Tehran’s failure to cooperate with the Agency’s investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activities detailed in the June 5 safeguards report.
June 19, 2020: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors passes a resolution calling on Iran to fully cooperate with the Agency’s investigation into possible undeclared nuclear materials and activities from the pre-2003 period. The resolution passes by a vote of 25-2, with 7 abstentions, one country not voting, and dissenting votes by Russia and China.
Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi calls the BoG resolution “deeply disappointing and unfortunate,” and thanks Russia, China, and other nations for opposing the resolution.
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Jackie Wolcott, and Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford deliver a special briefing on “IAEA Actions to Hold Iran Accountable.” They remark on the Board of Governors’ resolution, thank France, Germany, and the United Kingdom for their role in passing the resolution, and condemn Russia and China for their attempts to “shield Iran from scrutiny.”
June 24, 2020: U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft virtually brief the UN Security Council on their proposed draft of a resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran is open to talks with the United States if Washington apologizes for leaving the JCPOA and compensates Tehran accordingly. Rouhani warns the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to expect a “stern response” from Iran in response to the UN watchdog’s demands for access to sites in Tehran suspected of containing undeclared nuclear material.
The United States sanctions Iranian tanker captains who delivered approximately 1.5 barrels of Iranian gasoline to Venezuela.
June 25, 2020: The United States imposes additional sanctions on Iran targeted at the country’s metal industry. A statement by U.S. Secretary of State notes that Washington “will continue to exert maximum pressure on Iran until the regime decides to start behaving like a normal country.”
An explosion is reported in Iran’s Khojir region, which houses a ballistic missile complex. Iran’s defense ministry reports the explosion was caused by a gas leak.
June 28, 2020: U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook travels to the United Arab Emirates to meet with officials from the UAE to discuss extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran.
June 29, 2020: U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook meets with Saudi Defense, Foreign, State, and Investment Ministers in Riyadh to discuss the importance of extending the UN arms embargo on Iran.
Hook meets with Bahraini officials and together they issue a joint statement expressing a strong commitment to “countering Iranian aggression,” and “call[ing] upon the United Nations Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran before it expires.”
June 30, 2020: A United Nations Security Council briefing is held on the 2015 nuclear deal and the implementation of Resolution 2231.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo reiterates the U.S. call for extending the arms embargo on Iran that is written into the Resolution and is set to expire in October 2020. According to Pompeo, “renewing the embargo will exert more pressure on Tehran to start behaving like a normal nation.”
The European Union delivers a statement noting concerns related to Iran’s reduced compliance with the JCPOA and stressing the importance of preserving the deal. On the prospect of re-imposing all Security Council sanctions on Iran, the EU Representative condemns U.S. claims to participation in the deal and criticizes the U.S. decision to terminate critical non-proliferation waivers.
Germany's Permanent Representative to the United Nations notes that by withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018, which is "enshrined in the binding resolution 2231," the United States violated international law. Speaking on the snapback of UN sanctions under that resolution, the German Representative continues, "the overarching goal for us is the preservation, continuation, and full implementation of Resolution 2231 of the JCPOA."
An explosion is reported at a medical clinic in Tehran, killing nineteen people.
July 1, 2020: U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft announces the United States will soon call for a Security Council vote on the U.S. draft of a resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
“We want to give the council the opportunity to talk through the renewal,” she says, but continues that “we will use every measure, every tool, and if that means a snapback, that’s exactly what we’ll do, we’ll be initiating it.”
July 2, 2020: An explosion is reported at the Natanz enrichment facility. According to Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the explosion occurred “in one of the industrial sheds under construction,” but did not emit any radiation.
During a briefing, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo responds to the German claim that U.S. invocation of the snapback mechanism would further violate international law and says "as a participant in UN Security Council Resolution 2231, we are highly confident that we have the right to exercise that," but clarifies "it is not our first objective."
July 3, 2020: EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell announces he received a letter from Iran triggering the deal's dispute resolution mechanism, citing concerns about the E3's implementation of the agreement. That same dispute resolution mechanism, codified in paragraph 36 of the deal, was first triggered by the E3 in January 2020.
July 4, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweets that the country triggered the JCPOA dispute resolution mechanism because of violations by the United States and the European members of the deal Zarif says that European members of the deal are failing to fulfill their JCPOA duties and have given in to U.S. “bullying.”
July 6, 2020: Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announces that construction on the damaged building at Natanz will soon begin. Kamalvandi notes that due to limitations imposed by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, the centrifuge assembly facility where the explosion occurred was only operating at limited capacity.
July 7, 2020: Nour News, an online media outlet with close ties to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, releases a commentary on the Natanz explosion calling it “a deliberate attack.”
July 11, 2020: Iran’s Parliament approves a plan to halt implementation of the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement in response to the resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors calling on Iran to comply with the agency’s investigation into Iran’s possible past undeclared nuclear activities. Despite this action, Iran continues to implement the additional protocol.
July 14, 2020: On the fifth anniversary of the JCPOA, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell publishes an article commemorating the deal and addressing Iran’s concerns with Europe’s implementation of the agreement. “Having already established measures to protect our companies against extraterritorial US sanctions, we in Europe can do more to satisfy Iranian expectations for legitimate trade.”
July 15, 2020: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi notes that if Iran does not comply with the Agency’s probe into its past nuclear activities by the end of the month, it “will be bad.” “I keep insisting on the absolute necessity for us to resolve this issue very soon,” Grossi says, adding, that the issue “isn’t going to go away.”
July 21, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, meet to discuss Tehran and Moscow’s commitment to preserving the JCPOA. Lavrov tells Zarif that Russia is “sparing no effort” to “get the JCPOA back on sustainable track.”
July 27, 2020: A Swiss pharmaceutical company sells Iran a cancer treatment drug through the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), a channel set up to facilitate humanitarian trade with Iran. This transaction marks the channel’s first since the mechanism was declared fully operational in February. The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs says, “further transactions should be carried out shortly” and notes that “a number of countries have already been approved” for the trade channel.
July 29, 2020: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) demonstrates Iran’s newfound capability to launch missiles from underground during a military training exercise. The firing of Iran’s underground missiles occurs during a large-scale military exercise conducted by the IRGC in the Strait of Hormuz and involving a mock-up of a U.S. aircraft carrier.
August 6, 2020: Elliott Abrams is named the new U.S. special representative for Iran after Brian Hook resigns from the position.
August 14, 2020: In a vote on a U.S.-drafted standalone resolution to extend the UN arms embargo against Iran, the United States is defeated with 2 votes against from Russia and China, 2 votes in favor, and 11 abstentions, falling drastically short of the nine votes needed for extension. The United States and the Dominican Republic are the only two countries to vote in favor.
The United States seizes cargo for the first time from Iranian fuel tankers bound for Venezuela as a part of its maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
August 15, 2020: U.S. President Donald Trump assures a unilateral reinstatement of sanctions against Iran after the U.S. UN Security Council resolution proposing an embargo extension fails to win the necessary votes.
August 20, 2020: U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo delivers a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General and to Indonesia, currently presiding over the Security Council, calling for a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions on Iran. Citing the text of Resolution 2231, which endorses the deal and outlines the process to reimpose sanctions at the Security Council, Pompeo says “this process will lead to those sanctions coming back into effect 30 days from today.” The resolution stipulates that if a vote is not called for within 30 days then all sanctions are automatically reimposed.
August 25, 2020: The United Nations Security Council dismisses the U.S. effort to re-impose Security Council sanctions on Iran. Representing Indonesia, the current President of the Security Council, Ambassador Dian Transyah Djani says the Council is “not in position to take further action” pursuant to the U.S. request.
August 26, 2020: Iran agrees to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to two locations that are not part of Iran’s declared nuclear program, to support the IAEA’s investigation into Tehran’s possible undeclared nuclear materials and activities before 2003. Their agreement ends a year and a half-long standoff over the investigation.
September 1, 2020: The JCPOA Joint Commission meets in Vienna to discuss the status of the accord and the U.S. attempt to claim participant status in the deal in order to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran. In a joint statement, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran, and the European Union conclude that the United States “could not be considered as a participant state” and “cannot initiate the process of reinstating UN sanctions.”
September 4, 2020: After assuming the seat as President of the Security Council, Niger’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdou Abarry, says he will continue to uphold his predecessor’s decision to reject Washington’s call to snapback sanctions on Iran. “We’re staying with this decision… that was stated and announced by the president of the Security Council last month,” he states.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases its quarterly report on verification and monitoring in Iran pursuant to the 2015 nuclear deal. The report details Iran’s continuous efforts to incrementally expand its stockpile of uranium enriched up to 4.5 percent uranium-235. The report also notes Iran’s continued compliance with IAEA safeguards and with the additional monitoring mechanisms required under the deal. For more on the Sept. 4 quarterly report, see: Iran’s Nuclear Program Remains on Steady Trajectory.
The IAEA also releases a report on its broader safeguards activities in Iran. The report notes that Agency inspectors visited one of the sites that Iran granted access to as part of Iran and the IAEA’s Aug. 26 agreement. The second site is scheduled to be inspected in September, according to the report. For more, see: IAEA Report Notes Progress on Investigation.
September 8, 2020: Ali Akbar Salehi, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announces construction on a new centrifuge manufacturing facility “in the heart of the mountains” near the Natanz facility. The new facility will be built to compensate for the damage lost during the attack on Natanz in July. According to Salehi, “due to the sabotage, it was decided to build a more modern, larger and more comprehensive hall.”
September 16, 2020: At a press briefing with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo states that the United States will snap back UN sanctions on Iran in accordance with Resolution 2231, claiming that, according to the nuclear deal, “there were no conditions, there was nothing else that had to happen… That’s what we will do.”
At a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, Britain, France, and Germany issue a statement expressing their support for preservation of the nuclear deal. Regarding the U.S. attempt to snapback sanctions, the Europeans say, “we cannot therefore support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPOA.”
September 17, 2020: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweets in response to Pompeo’s September 16 briefing, saying “nothing new happens on 9/20”, and “[the] U.S. is NOT a participant.”
September 18, 2020: Britain, France, and Germany send a letter to the UN Security Council’s president stating that “the purported notification under paragraph 11 of [Resolution 2231] received from the United States of America and circulated to the UN Security Council Members is incapable of having legal effect.” They state that all UN sanctions lifted in accordance with the nuclear deal will “continue to be terminated” following the U.S. deadline.
September 19, 2020: U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo tweets that “virtually all UN sanctions have returned on Iran,” adding that, “we will not hesitate to enforce our sanctions, and we expect all UN Member States to fully comply with their obligations under these re-imposed restrictions.”
The Department of State releases a factsheet detailing these “sweeping measures” to re-impose sanctions on Iran beginning at 8 pm Eastern Time on September 19.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells the Security Council he will not take steps to implement the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran. His statement follows in accordance with thirteen of the Security Council’s fifteen members vote to block the U.S. snapback attempt.
Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi tweets that the United States’ “illegal & false ‘deadline’ has come and gone.” Ravanchi adds that the United States is “STILL in violation of JCPOA and [Resolution 2231]” and warns that “swimming against [international] currents will only bring more isolation.”
September 21, 2020: Speaking at a news conference, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says “no matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions.” Pompeo also announces new sanctions on Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, Iran’s Defense Industries Organization, and its director.
During an event at the Council on Foreign Relations, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says that Iran will “absolutely not” renegotiate the JCPOA. Appearing to leave the door open for diplomacy, however, he says Tehran has “never been hesitant to negotiate”, and that “it is the United States that has to show that it is committed to the deal – that it will not violate it again, that it will not make demands outside the scope of the deal, that it will compensate Iran for the damages.”
September 22, 2020: In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticizes the U.S. sanctions regime targeting Iran. He notes that the United States “can impose neither negotiation, nor war on us” but adds that “dignity and prosperity of our nation are essential for us; and they are attained through diplomacy relying on national will coupled with resilience.”
October 5, 2020: Iran’s energy minister Reza Ardakanian states that Iran will ramp up its nuclear power generation capacity to 3 gigawatts at the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
October 18, 2020: UN restrictions on Iran’s arms trade expire in accordance with Resolution 2231. In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif calls the expiration “momentous” but assures that Tehran will not go on a weapons “buying spree”.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issues a press statement reiterating the U.S. stance that “virtually all UN sanctions on Iran returned” September 19, including the indefinite extension of the arms embargo. Pompeo states that the United States is “prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction” any state or individual that contributes to the sale or transfer of arms to and from Iran.
October 26, 2020: The Trump administration announces new sanctions targeting Iranian banks and designates several entities related to Iran’s oil sector for terrorism-related activities under Executive Order 12334.
October 27, 2020: IAEA inspectors confirm that Iran has begun construction on an underground centrifuge assembly facility near Natanz, to replace what was damaged in the July sabotage attack. According to IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi, “they have started [construction], but it’s not completed.”
Grossi also confirms that IAEA inspectors have taken samples from both undeclared sites agreed to in the Agency’s August 2020 joint resolution with Iran. Grossi says those samples are undergoing analysis in IAEA laboratories.
November 3, 2020: Iran’s Parliament approves a provisional bill calling on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to begin enriching up to 20 percent uranium-235 at the Fordow facility and to take additional steps in violation of the nuclear deal.
November 11, 2020: The IAEA releases a new report on Iran which indicates that Iran’s stockpile of uranium gas enriched up to 4.5 percent uranium-235 equates to 2,443 kilograms, up 338 kilograms from the last quarter. The report also notes that Iran will move three centrifuge cascades from the pilot facility to the enrichment hall at Natanz. The report notes that only the cascade of IR-2m centrifuges has been moved so far. (For more on the Nov. 11 quarterly report, see: Iran’s Accumulation of Enriched Uranium Slows.)
November 14, 2020: The IAEA releases a report on Iran’s nuclear activities. The report states that Iran fed uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock for enriched uranium, into the newly-installed cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility. Enrichment using advanced IR-2m centrifuges at Natanz marks a further violation of the JCPOA, which dictates that Iran enrich uranium with only 5,060 first generation IR-1 machines at Natanz.
November 16, 2020: Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, states that it would be a mistake for the United States to re-enter the JCPOA. Dermer suggests that the administration of U.S. President Elect Joe Biden should instead consult with U.S. allies in the Middle East to forge a path forward. “It will put the U.S. in a much better position to deal with Iran,” he adds.
November 17, 2020: Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif says that if the United States adheres to its commitments under Resolution 2231, Iran will return to compliance with the JCPOA. This can be done without negotiations, he says. Zarif also says that negotiations will be necessary, however, for the formal U.S. re-entry to the nuclear deal.
November 18, 2020: Bahrain’s foreign minister, Abdullatif al-Zayani, says that U.S. President Elect Joe Biden should consult with Bahrain and the other Gulf countries before re-entering the JCPOA.
Speaking at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Iran’s permanent representative to the Agency Ambassador Kazem Gharibabadi says “the JCPOA can only be saved through joint efforts and actions to ensure that the rights and obligations therein are fully materialized.”
November 27, 2020: Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is assassinated near Tehran.
November 28, 2020: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggests that Israel is behind the assassination of Fakhrizadeh.
December 2, 2020: Iran's Guardian Council approves legislation mandating the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to increase enrichment levels to 20 percent and to suspend implementation of the Additional Protocol in 60 days, among other things, if certain sanctions are not addressed.
December 4, 2020: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases a new report stating that Iran intends to install three additional cascades of IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant.
December 7, 2020: The European members of the JCPOA – France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – release a joint statement expressing their concern with the IAEA's new report and Iran's enrichment activities. The E3 also address the Iranian Parliament's newly approved law and urge Tehran not to implement the law's provisions, stating that doing so would "substantially expand Iran's nuclear programme and limit IAEA monitoring access" and would "be incompatible with the JCPoA and Iran's wider nuclear commitments."
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says that the Parliament's proposed legislation has yet to be approved or signed into law by President Hassan Rouhani.
The United Nations Security Council completes its newest report on the implementation of Resolution 2231, which endorses the nuclear deal with Iran. The report notes no new allegations of illicit ballistic missile activities and concludes that in one instance of alleged illicit arms transfers the weaponry was not of Iranian origin and in another the evidence was inconclusive.
December 9, 2020: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says during a cabinet speech that the 2015 nuclear deal can be restored without any negotiations. “We’ll be back where we were,” he states, adding that the new IR-2m centrifuges currently being installed at the Natanz enrichment facility in violation of the deal can be switched off once all signatories to the agreement return to full compliance.
December 10, 2020: In an op-ed published by Foreign Policy, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell reiterates the importance of full implementation of the JCPOA.
December 16, 2020: The Joint Commission of the JCPOA meets virtually to discuss efforts to preserve the nuclear deal and support effective implementation by all members of the agreement.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei gives a speech saying that Iran should not delay if sanctions can be lifted in an “honorable” way.
December 18, 2020: Satellite imagery reveals that Iran has begun construction at the underground Fordow enrichment facility. The design and purpose of the new construction remains unclear.
December 21, 2020: EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell chairs a JCPOA ministerial meeting. Foreign Ministers from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Iran emphasize their commitment to preserving the nuclear deal and pledge readiness to support any future U.S. efforts to return to the agreement. The statement also notes the importance of Iran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
January 1, 2021: Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announces that Iran will resume enriching to 20 percent uranium-235 “as soon as possible” at the Fordow facility. Iran informs the IAEA of its boost in enrichment, adding that it must do so to comply with recent legislation passed by the Iranian parliament.
January 4, 2021: Iran begins enriching uranium to 20 percent uranium-235, and a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) relays that agency inspectors are monitoring enrichment activities at Fordow.
The IAEA releases a report confirming that Iran has begun producing uranium enriched up to 20 percent uranium-235 at Fordow.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweets the news, but adds that “our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL.”
January 3, 2021: Jake Sullivan, who has been tapped to become President-elect Joe Biden’s national security advisor, says in an interview with CNN that the United States will pursue follow-on negotiations to the JCPOA over Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities once it has returned to compliance with the existing deal.
January 5, 2021: European Union spokesman Peter Stano says that Europe is gravely concerned with Iran’s enrichment activities, and notes that Tehran’s actions “will have serious implications when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation.”
Iran launches a series of military exercises testing an array of domestically-produced drones.
The U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control imposes a new round of sanctions on Iran’s steel industry. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says in a statement that “the Trump Administration remains committed to denying revenue flowing to the Iranian regime as it continues to sponsor terrorist groups, support oppressive regimes, and seek weapons of mass destruction.”
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announces that Iran is in the process of installing one thousand new IR-2m centrifuges that will be used to significantly boost the country’s enriched uranium output.
January 9, 2021: U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issues a statement falsely asserting that Iran’s new legislation requires “expulsion of [IAEA] nuclear inspectors unless all sanctions are lifted.” Pompeo urges that “Iran’s expulsion of international inspectors must be met by universal condemnation.”
Responding to Pompeo’s statement, the spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry Saeed Khatibzadeh states that Iran does not plan to expel IAEA inspectors dispatched for regular inspections that occur in accordance with Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement. Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, reaffirms Khatibzadeh’s clarification and adds that regular inspections will occur even if Iran suspends its implementation of the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement.
January 11, 2021: IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says in an interview that “it is clear that we don’t have many months ahead of us. We have weeks,” to restore the JCPOA. Commenting on Iran’s recent jump to 20 percent enrichment levels, Grossi says Iran is progressing “quite rapidly” and will be able to produce about 10 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium per month at Fordow.
The Spokesman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Abolfazl Amouyee announces that Iran is designing a new IR2M heavy water reactor, similar to the Arak reactor’s original design. According to Amouyee, the new reactor will be installed in accordance with the implementation schedule of Iran’s new nuclear legislation.
January 13, 2021: The IAEA releases a new report detailing Iran’s plans to conduct research and development activities into uranium metal production, seeking to eventually design an improved type of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. That reactor runs on 20 percent enriched fuel. This action marks another violation of the JCPOA, which prohibits Iran from producing or otherwise acquiring uranium metal for fifteen years.
January 16, 2021: France, Germany, and the United Kingdom release a statement condemning Iran’s plans to produce uranium metal. The E3 urge Iran to halt the activity and return to its JCPOA commitments immediately.
January 18, 2021: Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman al-Thani urges other Gulf Arab states to enter into a dialogue with Iran. Remarking on the possibility for U.S. re-entry to the JCPOA, he says “we want the accomplishment, we want to see the deal happening.”
February 1, 2021: Iran tests a new satellite launcher, which it says will help to achieve its “most powerful rocket engine.” According to Iranian state media, the launcher, dubbed the Zuljanah, is a “three-stage satellite launcher [that] uses a combination of solid and liquid fuels.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases a report detailing Iran’s installation of a cascade, or chain, of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility. According to the report, Iran is in the process of installing an additional two identical cascades, as well as one IR-4 cascade and one IR-6 cascade.
February 2, 2021: During an interview with CNN, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif notes there is a “limited window of opportunity” for the United States to re-enter the JCPOA. He suggests that EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell could help to mediate conversations centered on a mutual U.S. and Iranian return to compliance with the deal and emphasizes that Iran can return to compliance with its obligations “in less than a day.”
Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, estimates it would take Iran about six months to produce enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon.
February 4, 2021: Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, says during a White House press conference that the administration is “actively engaged with the European Union right now” in consultations on Iran. He continues that “[those consultations] will produce a unified front when it comes to our strategy towards Iran and towards dealing with diplomacy around the nuclear file.”
February 5, 2021: The White House convenes a National Security Council principals committee meeting about Iran. According to Axios, a main action item of the meeting is to decide “whether to push toward returning to the nuclear deal before the June presidential elections in Iran or wait until after.”
A group of 41 retired military and national security officials sign on to a letter encouraging a swift U.S. re-entry to the JCPOA.
A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirms that traces of radioactive material were found in samples taken from two undeclared Iranian nuclear sites in August and September 2020. That ongoing investigation pertains to Iran’s pre-2003 nuclear activities.
February 7, 2021: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says during an interview with Iranian state media that “if [the United States] wants Iran to return to its commitments, it must lift all sanctions in practice, then we will do verification… then we will return to our commitments.”
February 9, 2021: Iran’s Intelligence Minister, Mahmoud Alavi, remarks that Iran could seek nuclear weapons if “cornered” by the Western states. His comments diverge from those of other prominent Iranian officials, who maintain that Iran is not interested in pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.
A United Nations Panel of Experts report affirms that Iran resumed cooperation with North Korea on the development of long-range missile projects in 2020. According to that report, “this resumed cooperation is said to have included the transfer of critical parts, with the most recent shipment associated with this relationship taking place in 2020.”
February 10, 2021: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifies that Iran has started producing uranium metal, and that it succeeded in producing a small amount of metal derived from natural uranium. Production of uranium metal is prohibited under the JCPOA for 15 years.
February 18, 2021: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with his ministerial counterparts from France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to discuss Iran. A joint statement released that day highlights that “the E3 welcomed the United States’ stated intention to return to diplomacy with Iran as well as the resumption of a confident and in-depth dialogue between the E3 and the United States.”
The United States sends a letter to the United Nations Security Council formally rescinding former President Donald Trump’s request that all sanctions lifted in accordance with the JCPOA be re-imposed on Iran.
A State Department official reportedly indicates the Biden administration would attend a meeting with Iran if it is hosted by the European Union and attended by the other members of the JCPOA – China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
February 21, 2021: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi travels to Tehran to meet with Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. They discuss Iran’s planned Feb. 23 suspension of the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement and together reach an arrangement whereby the IAEA will continue its necessary verification activities for up to 3 months.
February 22, 2021: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran might enrich uranium up to 60 percent uranium-235. “Iran’s uranium enrichment level will not be limited to 20%,” he says, “we will increase it to whatever level the country needs.”
February 23, 2021: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweets that Iran has suspended implementation of the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement. “Understandings [with IAEA Director-General Rafael Gross] show our good faith. All remedial measures reversible,” he adds.
Zarif also suggests that Iran will consider an informal meeting with the P4+1 and the United States.
A new verification monitoring report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirms that Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium continues to grow, and notes that Iran has accumulated 17.6 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 20 percent uranium-235.
A second IAEA report details the agency’s ongoing investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activities and affirms the finding of radioactive particles in samples taken from Iran in August and September 2020. For more on both February 2021 IAEA reports, see: Iran, IAEA Stave Off Monitoring Crisis.
March 4, 2021: Britain, France, and Germany decide not to pursue a resolution censuring Iran for halting implementation of the additional protocol and failing to comply with an investigation into past undeclared nuclear activities at the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA)’s Board of Governors meeting. For more, see: E3 Put JCPOA at Risk, Luckily Cooler Heads in Vienna Prevailed.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi announces plans for technical talks between Iran and the agency aimed to resolve outstanding IAEA concerns regarding the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declaration and its pre-2003 nuclear activities.
March 10, 2021: Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, affirms that “if Iran comes back into compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement, we would do the same thing”. Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken says “that would involve – if it came to that, if Iran made good on its obligations – sanctions relief pursuant to the agreement.”
March 12, 2021: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says the United States is engaged in indirect diplomacy with Iran. He tells reporters that “communications through the Europeans” enable the United States to “explain to the Iranians what our position is with respect to the compliance for compliance approach and to hear what their position is.”
March 15, 2021: Iran begins enriching uranium using IR-4 centrifuges at the Natanz facility.
March 17, 2021: Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, notes during an interview that Iran is “ready to agree to a choreography” to coordinate the steps for each side to return to compliance with the deal.” However, he says a meeting between Iran and the United States is unnecessary, because there is “nothing to talk about.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers remarks wherein he states that the delayed removal of sanctions by the United States would constitute “betrayal.”
March 17, 2021: In an interview, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, reiterates that the United States still seeks a meeting “in whatever format the Iranian government is comfortable with.” Malley says U.S. maximum pressure has failed, and that the United States wants to “get to the position of lifting sanctions” in return for Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.
March 19, 2021: Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announces that Iran will soon conduct a cold test of the Arak heavy water reactor, which includes starting the machine to monitor the fluid and support systems.
March 21, 2021: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran is “in no rush” to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Tweeting in reference to the Iranian demand that the United States lift sanctions prior to a restoration of the agreement, Khamenei says, “the US must lift all sanctions. After verifying that sanctions have truly been lifted, we will return to the JCPOA commitments.”
April 2, 2021: The Joint Commission of the JCPOA meets for its first consultative session in Vienna. They establish two working groups: one tasked with outlining which sanctions against Iran the United States must lift to reenter the deal, and the other with what nuclear limits Iran must revert to in order to meet its own obligations under the agreement.
April 9, 2021: The Joint Commission of the JCPOA reconvenes in Vienna.
The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases the 2021 Worldwide Threat Assessment, which assesses that Iran has not conducted “key nuclear weapons-development activities that… would be necessary to produce a nuclear device.”
April 10, 2021: Iran celebrates its 15th annual National Nuclear Day, unveiling a total of 133 nuclear achievements, including the IR-9, a new and advanced uranium enrichment centrifuge.
April 11, 2021: An act of sabotage damages the power supply for Iran’s primary uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
April 13, 2021: Iran notifies the International Atomic Energy Agency that it has begun to boost enrichment levels to 60 percent uranium-235 at the Natanz facility using IR-6 centrifuges in response to the April 11 attack.
April 14, 2021: Britain, France, and Germany issue a joint statement condemning Iran for ratcheting up its uranium production. Their statement notes that “this is a serious development since the production of highly enriched uranium constitutes an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon.” They add that “Iran has no credible civilian need for enrichment at this level.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that the “provocative announcement” by Iran calls into question Tehran’s “seriousness with regard to the nuclear talks and underscores the importance of returning to mutual compliance” with the JCPOA.
April 15, 2021: The Joint Commission meets in Vienna to discuss the progress of the two working groups.
April 17, 2021: The Joint Commission meets in Vienna to discuss the progress of the two working groups.
The International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Iran has begun enriching uranium to 60 percent purity at the Natanz facility.
April 18, 2021: Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Advisor, states in an interview that the United States will not lift sanctions “unless we have clarity and confidence that Iran will fully return to compliance” with the deal.
Iranian officials meet with experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss the agency’s investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activities.
April 19, 2021: Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and lead negotiator Abas Aragchi says work has begun on a “joint draft” detailing the required steps for JCPOA restoration. He notes there is “agreement over final goals,” but cautions that the path will not be easy.
April 20, 2021: The Joint Commission meets in Vienna to discuss the progress of the working groups. They agree to establish a third working group aimed to consider how the United States and Iran could sequence mutual steps toward compliance with the agreement.
Enrique Mora, the Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and chair of the Vienna meetings, tweets that “progress has been made over the last two weeks.” He shares his view that “diplomacy is the only way forward… to address ongoing challenges.”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price tells reporters that the United States believes progress has been made, but there have been “no breakthroughs.” He adds that “we have more road ahead of us than we have behind us.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani states that Iran will return to compliance with its obligations after the United States lifts sanctions and Tehran verifies those sanctions have been lifted.
An Iranian government spokesman confirms that the decision by Iran to boost enrichment to 60 percent uranium-235 was “a demonstration of our technical ability to respond to terrorist sabotage at these facilities” and not a hedge toward weapons-grade fissile material. That official adds that “this measure can be quickly reversed for a return to the agreed enrichment level in the nuclear accord if other parties commit to their obligations.”
April 27, 2021: The Joint Commission meets to discuss the findings of the working groups.
May 1, 2021: The JCPOA Joint Commission convenes in Vienna to discuss the progress of the three working groups.
May 4, 2021: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief, on the sidelines of the G7 ministerial meeting in London to address the latest developments in the ongoing discussions toward restoration of the JCPOA.
May 19, 2021: The fourth round of Joint Commission negotiations wraps up in Vienna. Enrique Mora, the Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and chair of the Vienna meetings states that “an agreement is shaping up,” and that he “is quite sure that there will be a final agreement not far from now.”
May 24, 2021: Iran agrees to a one-month extension of the February 2021 temporary bilateral monitoring agreement that allows the IAEA to continue monitoring its nuclear activities in lieu of the additional protocol.
May 26, 2021: The Director General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, calls Iran’s uranium enrichment program “very concerning” and emphasizes the need for continued verification measures.
May 31, 2021: The IAEA issues its quarterly report on verification and monitoring in Iran, which outlines Iran’s recent steps to breach JCPOA limits and provisions. For more, see: Iran Nuclear Deal Talks Head to Sixth Round.
The IAEA issues a report on Iran’s NPT safeguards agreement with the agency, which details the status of the agency’s ongoing investigation into Iran’s past undeclared nuclear activities. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi issues a report warning that the failure of bilateral discussions to clarify questions regarding the correctness of Iranian safeguards declarations “seriously affects the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
June 2, 2021: The fifth round of Joint Commission negotiations wraps up in Vienna. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and lead negotiator Abbas Araghchi says that the next round of talks, slated to begin June 10, “logically could and should be the final round.”
Enrique Mora, the Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and chair of the Vienna meetings, says he believes an agreement will be reached during the next round of negotiations.
June 3, 2021: U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price says in a press briefing that there is “every expectation” that there will be “subsequent rounds beyond” the sixth.
June 19, 2021: Ebrahim Raisi wins Iran’s presidential election. A conservative, he has expressed his commitment to reviving the JCPOA.
June 20, 2021: The sixth round of negotiations adjourns, no deal is reached.
Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett criticizes the new president of Iran, and calls on world powers including the U.S. to “wake up” in regards to the dangers of returning to the JCPOA.
In an interview, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi stresses the urgency of clarifying the agency’s outstanding questions pertaining to Iran’s previous undeclared nuclear activities. “We are on a ventilator,” he says.
June 21, 2021: The biannual report assessing the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the JCPOA, is released. In it, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voices support for the Vienna talks and appeals to the United States and Iran to return to compliance with the JCPOA.
The IAEA relays news from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran that the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant was temporarily shut down due to a technical problem.
June 24, 2021: A senior U.S. official says that the U.S. may need to rethink its approach with Iran if differences regarding the deal cannot be resolved “in the foreseeable future.”
The IAEA’s temporary monitoring arrangement with Iran expires.
June 25, 2021: The IAEA demands a reply from Iran regarding a potential extension of the temporary monitoring agreement, originally negotiated in February 2021. Iran says that it has no obligation to reply, and the agreement expires.
June 29, 2021: Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei says Iran is considering extending the monitoring arrangement, but no decision has been made.
July 1, 2021: Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says that sizeable progress has been made towards restoring the JCPOA and that Russia expects the talks to be successfully completed by July 14, the sixth anniversary of the deal.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy to the IAEA, says that some parties to the talks need more time before a new round of negotiations begins and that the next round will likely not begin next week.
It is reported that, for several weeks, Iran has further reduced IAEA access to the enrichment facility at Natanz.
July 2, 2021: An unnamed Iranian senior official affirms that Tehran will not share data recorded pursuant to the temporary monitoring arrangement unless the nuclear deal is salvaged, suggesting that the data is still being collected. “If talks succeed Iran will surely show the tapes to the IAEA,” that official says, caveating that “sharing the tapes depends on the way that negotiations will proceed.”
July 3, 2021: Iran’s Ambassador to the UN announces that IAEA Deputy Director General, Massimo Aparo, will visit Iran to conduct routine safeguards pursuant to Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement.
Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant resumes operations.
The European members of the nuclear deal, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, issue a statement claiming that “Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal production.” They characterize the move as a “key step in the development of nuclear weapons,” and urge a swift return to compliance with the JCPOA.
July 8, 2021: Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov tweets that a date for the seventh round of Vienna talks has not been set and clarifies that Iran “needs more time for preparations” after the Presidential election. “The sooner the talks resume the better,” he adds.
July 12, 2021: In his report to the parliament, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif notes that the Vienna talks have approached “the framework of a possible agreement to lift US sanctions,” and adds that he hopes “what has been achieved so far will be completed in the beginning of the [new presidential administration].”
July 14, 2021: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says during a press conference that Iran has the technical capability to enrich uranium to 90 percent purity – weapons grade – but clarifies that Tehran still seeks a revival of the JCPOA.
August 5, 2021: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi assumes office. In his inauguration speech, he pledges to pursue “smart engagement” with the P4+1 and the United States in order to lift sanctions on Iran.
August 7, 2021: After attending Raisi’s inauguration, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, Enrique Mora, says talks in Vienna between Iran and the other parties to the JCPOA could resume in early September.
August 14, 2021: Iran produces 200 grams of uranium metal enriched up to 20 percent, for the first time. Iran says it is producing the material to fuel its Tehran Research Reactor.
August 17, 2021: Iran accelerates its enrichment of 60 percent uranium-235, the IAEA reports.
August 19, 2021: Britain, France, and Germany release a statement condemning Iran’s uranium metal production and enrichment activities. According to the statement, “both are key steps in the development of a nuclear weapon and Iran has no credible civilian need for either measure.”
August 31, 2021: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says that a two- or three- month process will be necessary for the Raisi government to resume negotiations.
September 1, 2021: France and Germany implore Iran to resume nuclear negotiations after the Iranian elections stalled discussions over the summer. The sixth round of talks ended June 20.
September 8, 2021: The IAEA releases its quarterly monitoring report on Iran’s nuclear activities, which includes details on Iran’s growing enriched uranium stockpile, its development of advanced centrifuges, and its production of uranium metal. The IAEA’s report also highlights the agency’s ongoing efforts to recover data from four cameras installed in an Iranian centrifuge assembly facility after Tehran suspended implementation of the additional protocol in February 2021. Iran removed the cameras in June after an attack on the facility allegedly damaged the machines.
The IAEA also releases a report on Iran’s NPT Safeguards Agreement, which outlines that Iran remains uncooperative with the agency’s investigation into possible undeclared nuclear materials from its pre-2003 activities.
September 8, 2021: Following release of the reports, and ahead of the IAEA’s Board of Governors’ meeting, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warns the IAEA’s board against criticizing Iran for its nuclear activities, suggesting that rebukes against Tehran could slow progress on talks.
September 9, 2021: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says that Iran’s proposed two- to three-month timeline is “much too long for us.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when asked about a deadline to resume talks, says “I’m not going to put a date on it, but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance with the (JCPOA) does not reproduce the benefits that the agreement achieved.”
September 12, 2021: Iran and the IAEA reach a special agreement that will allow Agency inspectors to access the remote monitoring equipment referenced in the IAEA’s Sept. 7 report to service the units and install new data storage.
September 14, 2021: At the IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting, U.S. Charge d’Affairs to the UN Missions in Vienna, Louis Bono, says that the United States welcomes the Sept. 12 joint agreement between Iran and the IAEA, and that “the onus must be on Tehran to do its part.”
September 21, 2021: Ebrahim Raisi criticizes U.S. sanctions on Iran during his first address to the United Nations, and says sanctions are a “new way of war” with the rest of the world.
Speaking before the General Assembly, U.S. President Joe Biden says that the United States remains committed to restoring the JCPOA, and to “preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announces that talks in Vienna to restore the JCPOA will resume within the “next few weeks.”
EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell announces that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will not meet with his foreign minister counterparts from the P4+1 countries for a meeting of the Joint Commission during the UN General Assembly. Borrell emphasizes the importance of promptly resuming negotiations in Vienna.
September 22, 2021: During a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says that the Vienna talks are not intended to strike a new deal, but rather to ensure a full and guaranteed return by the United States to the JCPOA.
September 23, 2021: An unnamed senior U.S. official states that the opportunity to revitalize the JCPOA has not yet lapsed.
That same official also says that the United States is working on contingency plans if Iran’s nuclear activities continue to accelerate and the JCPOA is not restored.
September 26, 2021: The IAEA is denied access to the Karaj centrifuge assembly facility, where inspectors were sent to install new monitoring equipment to replace cameras Iran claims were damaged in a June attack. Iran agreed to grant inspectors access to that facility on Sept. 12, according to the IAEA. Iran denies that the facility is covered by that agreement.n The IAEA reports that inspectors were able to replace the data storage for cameras installed in other facilities September 20-22.
October 2, 2021: Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian suggests that the United States should release $10 billion in Tehran’s frozen funds as a gesture of goodwill.
October 3, 2021: Israel’s intelligence head shares his assessment that Iran is over two years away from mastering the weaponization activities which would constitute nuclear breakout. “To the best of our knowledge, the directive has not changed and they are not heading toward a breakout,” he says, “they are not heading toward a bomb right now.”
October 7, 2021: Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, announces his term as Ambassador will end October 15.
Updated by Julia Masterson