Trump's Oil Sanctions Compound Error of Violating 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

Statement from Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy

For Immediate Release: Nov. 2, 2018

Media Contact: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 102 

Iran’s commitment to continue implementing the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), faces another test Nov. 5, when the Trump administration’s biting sanctions on Iran’s oil sector come back into effect.

This move further compounds President Trump's reckless and irresponsible decision in May to violate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite acknowledging Iran’s compliance with the accord, and reimpose sanctions. It is another serious blow to the Trump administration’s already low credibility on nuclear nonproliferation matters.

Although the new oil sanctions are unlikely to change Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA in the short-term, the long-term viability of the deal remains at risk.

The Trump administration has falsely claimed that the JCPOA has been a failure because it did not “fix” Iran’s activities in policy areas beyond the scope of the nuclear deal, such as Tehran’s support for non-state actors. 

In reality, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has significantly reduced Iran’s capability to produce bomb-grade nuclear material, opened it up to a more robust international inspections regime, and blocked its major pathways to nuclear weapons for years to come. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed that Tehran is complying with the restrictions set by the JCPOA.

Worse yet, the Trump administration turned down earlier proposals from our European partners on addressing Iran’s malign activities in other areas, and the Trump administration’s overreliance on sanctions and its “maximum pressure” policy is not a viable strategy for replacing the JCPOA. The Trump administration’s approach is a recipe for conflict and increased proliferation risks in the Middle East.

We encourage the other parties to the JCPOA to continue to meet their obligations and preserve legitimate trade with Iran. The international community must fulfill UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon all states to support it, until such time as the United States comes back into compliance with the agreement and new talks can begin on win-win approaches to extend and build upon key elements of the JCPOA.