Nonproliferation Experts Call for Faster Action to Restore U.S. and Iranian Compliance with 2015 Nuclear Deal

For Immediate Release: Feb 22, 2021

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 103; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, DC)—Nonproliferation experts are calling on the European Union, the United States, and Iran to immediately begin technical talks on the steps necessary to restore compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"We support European Union efforts to immediately convene discussions involving the current parties of the agreement, plus the United States, on the sequencing of the actions that the U.S. and Iranian sides will each need to take to properly implement and restore compliance with the nuclear deal,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.

"The EU should make clear that these talks are about coordinating the sequencing of the return to compliance and addressing any technical issues that might need to be resolved—such as the future of Iran’s advanced centrifuges not mentioned in the JCPOA—and that this not a renegotiation of the original agreement," she suggested.

"We urge Iran and the other JCPOA parties to respond positively to EU-brokered discussions,” Davenport added.

In a Feb. 1 interview with CNN, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif suggested that Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign policy official, could “synchronize” or “choreograph” the moves that the U.S. and Iranian sides will each need to implement to restore compliance with the JCPOA.

The State Department announced Feb. 18 that "the United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward."

But Daryl Kimball, executive director at the Arms Control Association, cautioned that “the IAEA-Iran temporary arrangement on nuclear monitoring keeps open the diplomatic window of opportunity to salvage the nuclear deal, but the opportunity will not last."

“To accelerate progress and signal his intentions, we also urge President Biden to state clearly that the United States will remove the sanctions reimposed by former president Donald Trump in violation of U.S. commitments under the JCPOA when the IAEA verifies Iran is reversing its breaches of JCPOA limits,” Kimball suggested.

“It is also in the United States interest to immediately waive sanctions on multilateral nonproliferation activities mandated by the JCPOA to convert Iran Arak heavy water reactor. This move would further signal the Biden administration’s intentions to meet U.S. commitments under the JCPOA,” he added.

"A return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal by both sides would provide a solid foundation for potential follow-on negotiations on a longer-term framework to address Iran's nuclear program as well as on new, win-win solutions on other areas of concern, such as regional tensions and the ballistic missile programs of Iran and other states in the Middle East,” Kimball said.

Additional Resources

To help explain what is at stake and what needs to happen to restore compliance with the JCPOA and create conditions for follow-on talks, the ACA policy staff has produced three new factsheets: