At the beginning of January 2020 Iran announced that it would no longer abide by any of its commitments set down in the nuclear deal (the JCPOA) agreed in 2015. In light of that decision, the UK, Germany and France (the E3), who are signatories to the deal, announced on 14 January that Iran's non-compliance would be referred to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism of the JCPOA. What happens next?

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At the beginning of January 2020, Iran announced that it would no longer abide by any of its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The announcement fell short of total withdrawal from the deal, as Iran confirmed it would continue its co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Going forward Iran will not abide by any restrictions on either its stockpiles of enriched uranium or the level to which it will enrich uranium. Both of these limits were designed to lengthen the time it would take Iran to produce a nuclear warhead. Disregarding those limits could significantly reduce this ‘break out’ time, presently estimated at about a year, to six months or less.

In response to Iran’s non-complicance, on 14 January 2020 the E3 formally referred the matter to the Joint Commission of the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, provided for under the JCPOA. The hope of the E3 is to use this process to bring Iran back into compliance.

If the Joint Commission fails to resolve the dispute, and the complaining State/s believe it to “constitute significant non-performance” of JCPOA commitments, the matter can be referred to the UN Security Council.

A new procedure within the UN Security Council would then commence, which could result in the automatic ‘snapback’ of UN-related nuclear sanctions on Iran, that had been in place before the JCPOA was agreed.

National and EU sanctions could also be imposed.

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