As readers will be aware, following President Trump’s announcement on 8 May 2018, the USA has indicated its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal – the JCPOA – and that it will be reimposing secondary sanctions on Iran, being those which affect non-U.S. persons. The first tranche of secondary sanctions took effect in early August, with the second to follow in early November.
The remaining participants to the JCPOA, including the EU, have been looking for ways to signal their continued commitment to the agreement with a view to persuading Iran to fulfil its obligations. The EU, for example, has recently reactivated its so-called “blocking” Regulation, as we reported here. This week, the JCPOA signatories met in New York and released a statement explaining they were exploring ways of providing a mechanism to facilitate payment for Iranian exports. The expectation is that such a mechanism would be designed to avoid the use of U.S. dollars and therefore limit the possibility for interference by the U.S. authorities. The full text of the statement can be found here.
It remains to be seen precisely how this mechanism might work in practice, and indeed whether it would be successful in providing a route for non-U.S. companies to continue to trade with Iran whilst avoiding U.S. sanctions. The statement serves as a reminder that the issue of Iranian sanctions remains a live, and complex, issue.