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."
Russia and China also voice their opposition to U.S. efforts to extend the embargo.
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.
July 6, 2021: The IAEA reports that Iran has initiated the production of uranium metal enriched up to 20 percent. For more, see: New Iranian President May Prolong Deal Talks.
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.
October 14, 2021: EU Deputy Secretary-General Enrique Mora travels to Tehran to meet with Iranian deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani and discuss the resumption of negotiations to restore the JCPOA. They agree to a meeting between Iranian and EU officials in Brussels the following week.
October 17, 2021: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reportedly tells Iranian lawmakers that that the negotiating team may take an action-for-action approach to restoring the JCPOA.
October 18, 2021: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell clarifies that no date for a meeting between Iran and EU officials in Brussels has been set. He says that he “made it clear to the Iranians that time is not on their side and it’s better to go back to the negotiating table quickly.”
In a televised interview, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi remarks that Iran is “serious about results-oriented negotiations” and suggests that “for the other side, a readiness to lift sanctions can be a sign of their seriousness.”
October 19, 2021: On a trip to Washington, DC, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi tells reporters that the IAEA needs access to the Karaj centrifuge manufacturing plant immediately, and stresses that Iran’s failure to cooperate with the agency on this matter has “seriously affected” the IAEA’s monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program.
October 25, 2021: The IAEA reports that Iran is expanding its production of high enriched uranium at the Natanz facility but specifies that Iran is not stockpiling the extra product.
U.S. Special Envoy Rob Malley warns that efforts to restore the JCPOA are in a “critical phrase”.
The European Union announces that Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, will meet with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, in Brussels to discuss the JCPOA.
October 26, 2021: During a phone call, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterate their shared commitment to preserving the JCPOA.
October 27, 2021: Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora meets with Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani in Brussels to discuss Iran’s return to JCPOA negotiations in Vienna. “We agree to start negotiations before the end of November,” Kani tweets.
An Israeli public broadcaster, Kan, reports that Israel plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if diplomatic efforts and negotiations fail to revive the JCPOA.
October 29, 2021: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announces that President Biden will meet with his British, French, and German counterparts at the G20 summit in Rome, to coordinate a “united” policy on Iran and the JCPOA.
The Biden administration imposes new sanctions on members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and on two companies involved in the supply of lethal drones to insurgent groups.
October 30, 2021: Following a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a senior U.S. official tells reporters the discussion was a “substantive strategic conversation about the way forward” with respect to restoring the JCPOA.
October 31, 2021: Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the United States is “absolutely in lockstep” with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom on coordinating efforts to restore the JCPOA, emphasizing that all four countries “still believe diplomacy is the best path forward.”
U.S. President Joe Biden promises that the United States will return to the JCPOA so long as Iran does, and assures that Washington will only abandon efforts to restore compliance if Tehran reneges on the deal.
At the G20 meeting in Rome, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comments on Russia’s support for restoring the JCPOA as it was originally signed, without added obligations or exemptions.
Tehran formally appoints Reza Najafi, who served as ambassador to the IAEA under President Rouhani and helped to negotiate the JCPOA, as deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs. The appointment solidifies Najafi’s place on the Raisi administration’s nuclear negotiating team.
November 3, 2021: The European Union confirms that the seventh round of talks to restore the JCPOA will commence November 29, in Vienna. The sixth session finished in June.
U.S. Special Envoy Rob Malley, who will represent the United States in Vienna, notes his hope that Iran will return to the talks “in good faith”.
November 6, 2021: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, call for the JCPOA to be restored. Amirabdollahian confirms that Iran is prepared to comply with the deal provided that the United States does not demand any additional concessions.
November 12, 2021: A statement released by the U.S. Department of State outlines Special Envoy Rob Malley’s plans to meet with allies in the Middle East to “coordinate our approaches on a broad range of concerns with Iran, including its destabilizing activities in the region and the upcoming seventh round of talks on a mutual return to full compliance” with the JCPOA.
November 16, 2021: A report by the Wall Street Journal reveals that Iran resumed production at the Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop.
November 17, 2021: The IAEA releases two new reports on Iran’s nuclear program and its compliance with its NPT safeguards agreement, respectively, highlighting Iran’s activities in violation of the JCPOA and its failure to comply with an IAEA over an investigation into four undeclared locations. For more on the nuclear report, see: Iran’s Failure to Cooperate with the IAEA is Raising Tensions.
It is reported that IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi will travel to Tehran on November 22 and 23 in an effort to resolve an ongoing dispute over access to the Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop, where the IAEA aims to re-install cameras that Iran removed in June following an alleged sabotage attack. The report notes IAEA inspectors have attempted to access the site to reinstall the cameras on three occasions.
A joint statement released by the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council affirms the importance of restoring the JCPOA, following a meeting in Riyadh between senior U.S. officials and members of the Council.
November 22-23, 2021: IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi travels to Tehran to meet with Iranian officials.
November 24, 2021: Speaking to reporters in Vienna, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi says that although talks in Tehran were “constructive” they were “inconclusive” in resolving the dispute between the Agency and Iran over access to the Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing facility. The IAEA is close to the point where the Agency would “not be able to guarantee continuity of knowledge” with respect to Iran’s nuclear activities, he concludes.
A meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors meeting begins, in virtual format. In his statement to the Board, Grossi saysthat “the lack of access to the Karaj workshop has meant that restoration of surveillance and monitoring at all of Iran’s facilities and locations in relation the JCPOA could not be completed.” Grossi warns that the ongoing dispute over access to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities at Karaj “is seriously affecting the Agency’s ability to restore continuity of knowledge at the workshop, which has been widely recognized as essential in relation to a return to the JCPOA.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian tweets that talks in Vienna were “cordial, frank [and] fruitful.” He writes that “to work out a text, we need work on a few words,” adding that “agreement is possible” and that another meeting between Iran and the IAEA will be held soon.
November 29, 2021: The seventh round of talks to restore the JCPOA begins in Vienna, five months after the sixth round concluded.
Enrique Mora, the EU official charged with chairing the talks, says after the first day of negotiations concludes “ I feel extremely positive about what I have seen today,” adding that the negotiating parties “accepted that work done over the first six rounds is a good basis to build our work ahead.”
December 1, 2021: The IAEA reports that Iran has begun operating 166 advanced IR-6 centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility, and is using the machines to produce uranium enriched up to 20 percent uranium-235.
December 2, 2021: Iranian chief negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani reports that his delegation submitted two suggested drafts, on sanctions and nuclear issues, to the other parties.
December 3, 2021: Negotiating parties depart Vienna to prepare for a second session of the seventh round of discussions, scheduled to begin Dec. 9.
Addressing Iran’s submitted drafts, senior diplomats from Britain, France, and Germany tell reporters that “Iran is breaking with almost all of the difficult compromises reached in months of tough negotiations and is demanding substantial changes to the text.” They warn that “it’s not clear how these new gaps in the negotiations could be closed in a realistic timeframe on the basis of the Iranian amendments.”
December 4, 2021: Responding to news that Iran began operating new centrifuges at Fordow, a senior U.S. State Department official remarks that the United States “[cannot] accept a situation in which Iran accelerates its nuclear program and slow-walks its nuclear diplomacy.”
December 5, 2021: A background briefing released by a senior Iranian official stresses Iran’s view that “all sanctions imposed in the framework of the maximum pressure policy are designed with the clear aim of eliminating the JCPOA, and therefore all of these sanctions are related to the JCPOA” and must be lifted.
December 7, 2021: A senior U.S. official shares concern with journalist Laura Rozen that Iran’s breakout window – or the time it would take for Iran to produce enough high-enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb – could “approach the margin of error” within the first quarter of 2022.
A second senior U.S. official tells Rozen “I think if we get into the latter part of the [first quarter], close to the margin of error, we will reach a decision point,” and “a decision will be made” on whether to continue talks in Vienna.
December 9, 2021: The seventh round of discussions to restore the JCPOA resumes in Vienna.
Ned Price, the U.S. State Department spokesperson, says that the United States is focused on diplomacy and continues to believe a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA is possible.
After a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, the European Union’s Enrique Mora says that there is a “renewed sense of purpose on the need to work and to reach an agreement on bringing the [JCPOA] back to life.” He warns that we don’t have all the time of the world” to reach agreement on outstanding issues.
Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweets that the talks will proceed from drafts concluded June 20, but that Iran’s ideas will be “properly discussed and thoroughly considered.”
December 10, 2021: Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, visits Vienna to meet with his counterpart at the IAEA, Margarete Doane.
December 12, 2021: In Vienna, the working group on implementation, tasked with determining the sequence for the United States and Iran to return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA, meets for the first time.
Satellite imagery suggests Iran is preparing for a space launch.
December 13, 2021: Senior European diplomats tell reporters that “to date, we have not yet been able to enter into any real negotiations. We are wasting precious time with new Iranian positions that are incompatible with or beyond the JCPOA.” They warn that “without rapid progress, the JCPOA could soon be an empty shell, given the rapid pace of Iranian nuclear activity.”
December 14, 2021: Mohamad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, says that the IAEA’s demands for access to the Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing facility are beyond the scope of its safeguards agreement.
December 15, 2021: Iran and the IAEA reach an agreement whereby the agency will replace the cameras at Karaj before the end of the year.
December 17, 2021: IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi tells a press conference that the cameras installed at Karaj cannot be targeted by cyberattacks, challenging a claim by Tehran that the cameras may have been hacked to aid in a June 2021 sabotage attack against the facility.
Asked by a reporter whether the newly installed centrifuges at Iran’s Fordow enrichment facility were produced at Karaj, Grossi says, “it would be a logical conclusion.”
The seventh round of talks concludes in Vienna, after parties agree to a joint text that will serve as the basis for future discussions on the nuclear file.
Senior diplomats from the three European parties to the deal tell reporters that “we remain fully available, with our teams, to engage in negotiations on all aspects of the return to the JCPOA. This negotiation is becoming ever more urgent.” They say that the decision to pause talks was made by Iran’s team, who requested time to return to Tehran for consultations.
December 21, 2021: U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, warns that if talks “continue at their current pace, we have some weeks left but not much more than that, at which point, I think, the conclusion will be that there’s no deal to be revived.”
December 27, 2021: The eighth round of talks begins in Vienna.
As talks begin, Enrique Mora, the EU official charged with chairing the talks, warns “we don’t have much time,” but says “we have come a long, long way since the beginning of the negotiation… [and] from the point of view of the coordinator we are exactly at the point where we should be if we want to get the final successful result.”
December 28, 2021: Senior European diplomats tell reporters “it is clear that we are reaching the point where Iran’s nuclear escalation will have eliminated the substance of the JCPOA,” and that “we have some weeks and not months to reach an agreement.”
December 30, 2021: Negotiations in Vienna pause for the New Year’s holiday.
Ned Price, the U.S. State Department spokesperson, tells reporters “there may have been some modest progress at the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth rounds, but it is too soon to tell if we are making real progress toward an understanding on mutual return to full compliance with [the JCPOA].”
A spokesman from Iran’s defense ministry announces the launch of the Simorgh space-launch vehicle.
January 3, 2022: The eighth round of negotiations resumes in Vienna.
January 4, 2022: Israeli military intelligence chief, Aharon Haliva, says at a meeting of the security cabinet that restoration of the JCPOA is better for Israel than if an agreement is not reached.
January 6, 2022: Iranian chief negotiator and deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani meets with his South Korean counterpart, Jong Kun Choi, to discuss the Iranian assets frozen in South Korea.
January 7, 2022: The IAEA spokesperson confirms that “by the end of December 2021, the Agency had reinstalled cameras to replace those removed from the workshop at Karaj and performed other related technical activities.”
January 11, 2022: Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, addresses the negotiations in Vienna and implicitly endorses the talks.
January 12, 2022: Rob Malley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, meets with the Gulf Cooperation Council ambassadors in Vienna to discuss the status of JCPOA talks.
January 14, 2022: Speaking to reporters, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says, “if we don’t reach an understanding soon [on the JCPOA] … we will have to consider a different path.” She says that, several weeks ago, U.S. President Joe Biden “asked his team to prepare a range of options,” and, “they have done that,” but adds, “obviously our preference is always diplomacy.”
January 19, 2022: U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking about efforts to restore the JCPOA, says, “it is not time to give up,” and, “there is some progress being made.”
January 20, 2022: Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state, reports, “there is a real urgency [to restore the JCPOA] and this is really a matter of weeks,” and adds that while “returning to mutual compliance remains possible,” “We are not where we need to be there and if we don’t get there very soon, we will have to take a different course.” Blinken says he discussed with his European counterparts “the steps that we would take together if Iran refuses to return” to the JCPOA.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says, “there is partial, timid and slow progress, but negotiations cannot continue at such slow pace while, in parallel, Iran’s nuclear program advances so rapidly.” He warns that “we will quickly find ourselves in an untenable situation.”
China's customs office reports the first import of Iranian crude oil in a year, in violation of U.S. sanctions.
January 27, 2022: In an interview with Maariv, former Israeli military chief Gadi Eisenkot says the U.S. decision to withdraw from the JCPOA was a “strategic mistake,” breaking from Jerusalem’s typically hostile attitude toward the nuclear deal.
January 28, 2022: The eighth round of talks to reestablish the nuclear pact pauses in Vienna. German, French, British, Russian, Chinese and Iranian diplomats return home for consultations with their governments, according to European Union political director Enrique Mora, who is chairing negotiations, after five weeks of the longest-running talks yet.
Negotiators from France, Germany and the United Kingdom call January the “most intensive period of these talks to date.” In a statement released after the eighth round of talks in Vienna concluded, the E3 say, “Everyone knows we are reaching the final stage, which requires political decisions. Negotiators are therefore returning to capitals for consultation.”
January 31, 2022: Iran relocates its centrifuge production facilities near Karaj to another workshop in Isfahan, according to the IAEA, just weeks after the nuclear watchdog reinstalled cameras previously knocked out in an alleged Israeli cyberattack against the factory. The IAEA says cameras have already been installed at the new workshop, and that the Karaj facility is closed.
February 2, 2022: Following a Feb. 1 meeting of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, the commission’s spokesperson, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, says “important issues still remain” in talks to return to compliance with the JCPOA but signals conditions are favorable “for a win-win agreement.”
February 4, 2022: The Biden administration reinstates waivers allowing Russian, Chinese and European companies to work with Iran’s civilian nuclear program without penalty of U.S. sanctions.
February 5, 2022: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian welcomes the Biden administration’s limited sanctions relief, calling it “the good will that Americans talk about,” but says the move is “not sufficient.”
Amirabdollahian tells state media Iran is looking for “political, legal and economic” guarantees in the United States’ return to the nuclear deal.
February 7, 2022: Thirty-three Republican senators send U.S. President Joe Biden a letter warning him to gain congressional approval before inking a new nuclear deal with Iran. They write, “[A] genuinely robust nuclear agreement with Iran would be compelling enough to secure assent from two-thirds of the Senate – and the only reason not to present it for a resolution of ratification is that it is too weak to pass muster. Any agreement related to Iran’s nuclear program which is not a treaty ratified by the Senate is subject to being reversed, and indeed will likely be torn up, in the opening days of the next Presidential administration, as early as January 2025.”
February 8, 2022: The eighth round of talks resumes in Vienna after a 10-day break for political consultations. As the talks begin, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian says negotiators “should enhance the sense of urgency,” criticizing the United States as the “culprit of the Iranian nuclear crisis.”
February 9, 2022: Iran displays a new, solid-fuel missile with a reported range of 900 miles. Later, State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter tells reporters, “Iran’s development and proliferation of ballistic missiles poses a threat to the international security and remains a significant nonproliferation challenge.”
February 11, 2022: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says his foreign policy is “balanced” against ongoing talks in Vienna to resuscitate the JCPOA. “We put our hopes on the east, west, north, south of our country and never have any hope in Vienna and New York,” he says. “Looking toward the West has made the country's relations unbalanced, we need to look at all countries and capacities in the world, especially our neighbors.”
February 14, 2022: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian tells European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, “some hasty moves, repeatedly playing with the text, and a lack of serious will on the part of the West to reach a good and credible agreement in Vienna have led to unnecessary prolongation of the talks,” according to a statement released following the two leaders’ phone call. The statement mentions Iran’s commitment to its “red lines,” which it says, “are based on logic and realism.”
Amirabdollahian tells reporters Iran is “in a hurry” to wrap up talks in Vienna with a successful nuclear deal.
February 16, 2022: In an address to parliamentarians, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says of nuclear talks with Iran, “We have reached tipping point now. It's not a matter of weeks, it's a matter of days.” Whether or not the needle moves on returning to the deal, according to Le Drian, will depend on Iran’s next steps. “Either they trigger a serious crisis in the coming days, or they accept the agreement which respects the interests of all parties,” he says.
February 25, 2022: State Department spokesperson Ned Price says Moscow and Washington will continue to cooperate in negotiations to recertify the JCPOA despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine making it a “pariah on the world stage.” He says, “The fact that Russia has now invaded Ukraine should not give Iran the green light to develop a nuclear weapon.”
February 28, 2022: Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s chief negotiator to the nuclear talks in Vienna, returns from Tehran and meets with Enrique Mora, the European Union-appointed chairman for the negotiations; Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy to the talks; and China’s top diplomat in Vienna, Wang Qun.
March 2, 2022: IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi tells reporters the agency will continue investigation into undeclared nuclear sites in Iran despite calls from Tehran to end the probe. “The IAEA will never abandon a process that it launched because of the necessity of clarification of certain situations in Iran because of a political reason,” he says. “This is not how the IAEA works.”
March 3, 2022: The IAEA reports that Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium is about 3,197 kilograms, 33 kilograms of which is enriched up to 60 percent purity and 182 kilograms to 20 percent. This latest measurement is more than 700 kilograms of enriched uranium over the IAEA’s previous report in November.
March 5, 2022: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia has "asked for a written guarantee ... that the current process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic,” Lavrov says.
IAEA Director General Grossi travels to Tehran. In a joint statement the AEOI and Iran outline agreed-upon steps to advance the agency's ongoing investigation into the presence of uranium at undeclared locations in Tehran.
March 11, 2022: Talks in Vienna to restore the nuclear deal are paused, according to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. Borrell attributes the pause to “external factors” affecting the negotiations.
March 14, 2022: A group of Senate Republican sign a letter criticizing the Biden administration’s progress toward restoring the nuclear deal.
March 15, 2022: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov tells reporters he has received “written guarantees” about Russia’s role in the nuclear pact with Iran. “They are included in the very text of the agreement on reviving the JCPOA,” Lavrov says, “and in these texts there is a reliable defence of all the projects provided for by the JCPOA and those activities.”
A senior State Department official says Russia would not be sanctioned for its nuclear work as part of a newly negotiated JCPOA. “We continue to engage with Russia on a return to full implementation of the JCPOA,” the official says. “Perhaps it is now clear to Moscow that, as we have said publicly, the new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its implementation."
March 18, 2022: Two kilograms of Iranian uranium enriched to 60 percent purity has been processed into powder, the IAEA reports.
March 23, 2022: U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan tells reporters it’s unclear whether final issues stalling nuclear negotiations in Vienna will be resolved, despite notable progress made toward finalizing the deal in recent weeks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says negotiations are nearly ready to advance to the foreign-minister level. “We believe that today we are closer to an agreement in Vienna than ever before,” Amirabdollahian says.
April 12, 2022: Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says negotiations are "going ahead properly" and the Iranian negotiating team has "resisted the other party's excessive demands."
April 13, 2022: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says in Dohan that "everything is essentially ready and on the table" for a deal to restore the JCPOA.
April 14, 2022: The IAEA says it installed cameras at Iran's new centrifuge production facility at Natanz and Iran begins operating the facility.
April 17, 2022: Iran confirms that the centrifuge production facility at Natanz is now operational. Equiptment for the site was moved from the Karaj facility. Other equiptment from Karaj was moved to a new centrifuge production facility at Esfahan, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran says.
April 2022: The annual State Department report assessing compliance with arms control treaties assesses that "Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities it judge necessary to produce a nuclear device."
May 10, 2022: IAEA Director General Grossi tells the European Parliment that Iran has produced 42 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent and that Iran had not yet provided the necessary information in response to the IAEA's inquiries about undeclared nuclear materials and activities.
May 11, 2022: Enrique Mora, the senior EU official coordinating talks to restore the JCPOA, travels to Tehran.
May 13, 2022: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says Mora's trip was "positive enough" to relaunch talks.
May 16, 2022: Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says that Iran will return to talks if the United States responds to Iran's proposal.
May 17, 2022: State Department spokesperson Ned Price says to conclude a deal to restore the nuclear deal, Iran must decide “whether it insists on conditions that are extraneous to the JCPOA.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz says that Iran is working to produce 1,000 IR-6 centrifuges at its new underground centrifuge production facility at Natanz.
May 25, 2022: Robert Malley, US Special Envoy for Iran, testifies to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Iran could potentially produce enough weapons-grade nuclear material for a bomb "before we can know it, let alone stop it." He says that a restored JCPOA would increase breakout to about 6 months and that the Biden administration will submit an agreement to restore the JCPOA to Congress for review under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).
May 30, 2022: The IAEA issues two reports on Iran's nuclear program. One report detailing the agency's investigation into undeclared nuclear materials and activities concludes that Iran conducted uranium metal activities prior to 2003 that should have been declared to the IAEA. The agency notes in the report that Iran has not provided technically credible explanations for the presence of uranium at three other undeclared locations and says the uranium may have been caused by third party sabotage. The second report estimates that Iran has produce 43 kilgorams of uranium enriched to 60 percent and 238 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent.
June 6, 2022: Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, says that the IAEA's safeguards investigation is based on "fake documents and accounts" and the agency lacks the "will" to find Iran's responses convincing.
June 8, 2022: The IAEA Board of Governors votes to pass a resolution calling upon Iran to cooperate with the agency's safeguards investigation. The vote is 30-2, with 3 states abstaining.U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Laura Holgate tells the Board that the United States, which co-sponsored the resolution, did not pursue the censure “to escalate a confrontation for political purposes.” She says the United States seeks “credible explanations, consistent with Iran’s safeguards obligations, that can finally put these issues behind us.”
Iran announces it will turn off cameras and equiptment that monitors Iran's enrichment level.
June 9, 2022: Iran announces that it will disconnect 27 IAEA cameras installed in its nuclear facilities.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says Iran's decision will be a "fatal blow" to efforts to restore the JCPOA in 3-4 weeks. After that point the IAEA may not be able provide the accuracy required to implement a restored JCPOA, he says.
Germany, France, and the United Kingdom release a statement saying that Iran's “actions will only aggravate the situation and complicate our efforts to restore full implementation of the JCPOA" and casts “further doubt on Iran’s commitment to a successful outcome.”
June 12, 2022: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says that the June 8 IAEA Board resolution will not make Iran "take a step back from its positions."
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi confirms in a CNN interview that Iran has disconnected the cameras.
June 16, 2022: The Treasury Department announces sanctions targeting Chinese and Emerati entities engaged in exporting Iranian petrochemical products in violation of U.S. sanctions.
June 25, 2022: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell travels to Tehran. After meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdhollahian he says that negotiations to restore the JCPOA will resume in the coming days. Amirabdhollahian confirms that Iran is willing to restart talks and says that he and Borrell agreed to “end the tension that has existed in recent days."
June 28-29, 2022: Indirect talks between Iran and the United States resume in Doha.
June 29, 2022: EU coordinator for the JCPOA negotiations, Enrique Mora, says the Doha talks did not produce the progress the EU hoped for.
July 5, 2022: EU foreign policy cheif Josep Borrell tweets that " if we want to conclude an agreement, decisions are needed now." He says the political space to revive the JCPOA may narrow soon.
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley says in an interview that the EU negotiators put a detailed outline of a deal to restore the JCPOA on the table in Doha and the United States is "prepared to take that deal" but Iran has not said yes. Malley says the Biden administration's assessment is that Iran has not made the "fundamental decision whether they are interested or not" in returning to the JCPOA.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says in a speech in Australia that "the lack of progress in verifying the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program may affect other countries' decisions."
July 7, 2022: The British Royal Navy says it seized Iranian origin missiles and related components in January and February of 2022 that were being shipped in violation of Resolution 2231.
July 9, 2022: The IAEA verifies that Iran is enriching to uranium to 20 percent using IR-6 centrifuges at Fordow. The cascade has modified sub-headers.
U.S. President Joseph Biden says in an oped in The Washington Post that "my adiministration will continue to increase diplomacy and economic pressure until Iran is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal."
July 12, 2022: French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna says there are only a few weeks left to revive the JCPOA.
July 13, 2022: U.S. President Biden says in an interivew that he will use force as a "last resort" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
July 14, 2022: U.S. President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Lapid meet in Jerusalem and sign a declaration reaffirming the "unshakeable U.S. commitment to Israel's security," and, as part of the pledge, to use "all elements of its national power" to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.
July 17, 2022: Kamal Kharrazi, advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader, says in an Al-Jazeera interview that Iran is technically capable of making a nuclear bomb, but has not decided whether to build one.
Israeli Prime Minister Lapid tells his cabinet that he made clear to Biden that Israel opposes the JCPOA and maintains "complete freedom to act, diplomatically and operationally, in the face of the Iranian nuclear program."
July 21, 2022: Richard Moore, head of the UK's MI6, says he does not think that the Supreme Leader of Iran wants to reach a deal to restore the JCPOA.
July 22, 2022: IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says if there is an agreement to restore the JCPOA, “it is going to be very difficult for me to reconstruct the puzzle of this whole period of forced blindness.”
July 26, 2022: EU High Representative Josep Borrell writes in an oped for the Financial Times that “space for additional significant compromises has been exhausted.” He says he has “put on the table a text that addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore” compliance with the JCPOA.
July 28, 2022: Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announces that Iran will build a new reactor to test nuclear fuels. He says the reactor will “complete the chain of research, evaluation, testing and assurance of our nuclear power production.
August 1, 2022: The United States announces new sanctions targeting entities in Hong Kong, the UAE, and Singapore that help facilitate Iranian oil transactions.
August 2, 2022: IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says the “lack of progress in verifying the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme will have consequences on the regional security landscape.”Those who “truly favour effective safeguards, would never use their cooperation as a bargaining chip, or IAEA inspectors as pawns in a political game," he says.
August 3, 2022: The IAEA releases a report noting that Iran has completed the installation of three IR-6 cascades at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant. The report also states that Iran has begun enriching uranium with an additional two cascades at of IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz that were previously installed but not enriching. Iran also notified the IAEA of its intention to install another 1,000 IR-2 centrifuges.
AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi says Iran began enriching uranium using the three new cascades of IR-6s.
August 3-8, 2022: Indirect talks between the United States and Iran take place in Vienna.
August 8, 2022: EU High Representative Josep Borrell tweets that he circulated a "final" draft to restore the JCPOA. He says “what can be negotiated has been negotiated,” and that it is time for political decisions to be made in the capitals. The draft includes reference to the IAEA's safeguards investigation for the first time.
August 12, 2022: US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley says in an interview with PBS that the US team is “considering the text very carefully to make sure that it lives up to the president’s very clear guidance” that the deal is “consistent with U.S. national security interest.” He says the administration will not pressure the IAEA into closing the safegaurds investigation.
August 15, 2022: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian says Iran responded to the EU's draft. He says Iran made several proposed changes on the issue of sanctions guarantees. Iran needs to see a “realistic approach” from Washington, he says.
August 16, 2022: State Department spokesperson Ned Price says the Biden administration is studying Iran's comments, but the United States agrees with Borrell that "what could be negotiated over the course of these past 16, 17 months has been negotiated.
August 21, 2022: EU High Representative Josep Borrell says Iran's response to the EU's proposal is "reasonable."
August 22, 2022: Seyed Mohammad Marandi says that "no deal will be implemented before the IAEA permanently closes" the safeguards investigation.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says in a CNN interview that the agency will "absolutely not" drop the safeguards investigation and that the IAEA has a "legal obligation" to seek clarity regarding the presence of uranium at undeclared locations in Iran.
August 24, 2022: The US sends its response to Iran's proposed changes to the draft text to the EU. White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby says that "gaps remain" and "we're not there yet."
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid says the draft text is a "bad dea" and urges negotiators to walk away from the talks.