Nuclear Deal Still Alive: Joint Commission meets to review Iran Nuclear Deal

On 25 April 2017, the Joint Commission (JC) established by the Iran Nuclear Deal, i.e. JCPOA, met in Vienna to review the implementation status of the Nuclear Deal. According to a published statement, this was the fifth meeting of the JC. Under the Nuclear Deal, the JC is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the JCPOA.

The meeting also signals that the Nuclear Deal is still very much alive, and with any luck will keep that way. Until now President Trump is somewhat fuzzy regarding Iran. It will be interesting to see how things develop – President Trump’s first foreign trip – which will include no friends of Israel – Israel and Saudi Arabia, Iranian elections, and possible new U.S. Congressional sanctions regarding Iran’s ballistic missile program

The meeting provided the opportunity to address issues concerning cooperation in the field of civil nuclear safety, sanctions relief and the significant progress made on the Arak modernization project (on 23 April 2017, Chinese and Iranian companies signed the first consultancy services contract).

The JC was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Mogherini, by EEAS Secretary General Helga Schmid and was attended by the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and Iran at the level of Political Directors/Deputy Foreign Ministers.

The meeting, the first under President Trump, signifies that the Nuclear Deal is still alive. The meeting was also held shortly after the U.S. certified to U.S. Congress that Iran was adhering to its obligations under the JCPOA. Note that the President Trump has to continuously certify to the U.S. Congress that Iran is complying with the Nuclear Deal – next certification round is planned for 17 May 2017. 

Under the U.S. Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act 2015 (INARA P.L. 114-17) a 30- or 60- day congressional review period is required after which the U.S. Congress could adopt laws to approve or to disapprove of the JCPOA, or do nothing. No disapproval laws was enacted.

There are several certification and reporting requirements under INARA:

Material Breach Report. The President must report a potentially significant Iranian breach of the agreement within 10 days of acquiring credible information of such. Within another 30 days, the President must determine whether this is a material breach and whether Iran has cured the breach.

 Certification Report. The President is required to certify, every 90 days, that Iran is “transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing” the agreement, and that Iran has not taken any action to advance a nuclear weapons program.

If a breach is reported, or if the President cannot certify compliance in the certification report, Congress “may” initiate within 60 days “expedited consideration” of legislation that would reimpose any Iran sanctions that the President had suspended through use of waiver or other authority.

Semiannual Report. INARA also requires an Administration report every 180 days on Iran’s nuclear program, including not only Iran’s compliance with its nuclear commitments but also whether Iranian banks are involved in terrorism financing; Iran’s ballistic missile advances; and whether Iran continues to support terrorism.

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