Restrictions on Iran’s Nuclear Program, and Missiles, Are about to Expire

August 3, 2023 | Henry Rome and Louis Dugit-Gros
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The nuclear deal concluded with Iran in 2015 was not intended as a permanent commitment; rather, its various provisions expire at different times over the course of fifteen years, along with specific restrictions on Tehran’s ballistic-missile programs enacted by the UN Security Council and EU. October 18 (“Transition Day”) is the expiration date for several of these restrictions. Henry Rome and Louis Dugit-Gros explain what this deadline means, and encourage the U.S. and Europe to take action:

Although Washington and Tehran no longer adhere to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, some of its elements have continued on autopilot, including the scheduled expiration of some measures in less than three months. . . . Of all the measures set to sunset in October, the removal of European restrictions would probably have the most practical benefit for Tehran. Entities whose [sanctions] designations would be lifted include key manufacturers of missiles, drones, and aircraft. This could open up new opportunities for Iranian acquisitions of arms, technology, and spare parts.

Given the destabilizing Iranian policies [of the past few years], there are plenty of reasons for European governments to conclude that lifting sanctions in less than three months is not a viable option. . . . In addition to maintaining their restrictions, European officials should package their Transition Day policy with new efforts to highlight Iran’s drone proliferation and human-rights abuses, underscoring that de-escalation in some theaters does not preclude Western action in others. September will mark anniversaries on both fronts: the initial spike in Iranian drones appearing on Ukraine’s battlefields, and the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked Iran’s latest mass protest movement.

Accordingly, the United States, the EU, and Britain should plan to levy additional sanctions related to these issues and declassify more details about them. The sanctions and export-control authorities recently announced by Brussels and London are a good start, but they can and should go further.

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