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The History of the Iran Nuclear Deal

3 MINS READOct 15, 2017 | 13:45 GMT
Iran has increased the budget for its ballistic missile program twice this year.
(ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sejjil and Qadr-H medium-range ballistic missiles are on display in Tehran in September next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during defense week, which marks the anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

Editor's Note

Iran sought the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to lift the burden of economic sanctions linked to its nuclear program. Under the international agreement, the European Union lifted its sanctions and the United States suspended the application of sanctions. The deal was signed on July 14, 2015, by Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has placed far more emphasis on curbing Iran's activities throughout the Middle East than its predecessor did. By reopening the debate on the JCPOA with the threat of withdrawal, Trump hopes to either rein in Iran's regional meddling or persuade Tehran to broaden the deal to include restrictions on its ballistic missile program and its support of militant groups.

  • May 12, 2018: The deadline to extend U.S. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sanctions waivers expires. 
  • May 8, 2018: U.S. President Donald Trump announces that the United States will withdraw from the JCPOA. 
  • Jan. 12, 2018: Trump continues to exempt Iran from the package of tough economic sanctions under the JCPOA.
  • Jan. 11, 2018: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson publicly urges the United States not to abandon the deal, arguing that it makes the world safer.
  • Oct. 13, 2017: Trump announces his decision to forgo the certification of the JCPOA.
  • July 17, 2017: The Trump administration reluctantly certifies Iran's compliance with the JCPOA.
  • May 20, 2017: Trump travels to Saudi Arabia to try to drum up support for an Arab coalition to counter Iran's influence in the region.
Looking at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
  • May 19, 2017: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wins a second term.
  • Mid-May 2017: For the first time, a set of sanction waivers reaches its expiration date under the Trump administration.
  • April 18, 2017: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tells Congress that Iran is still complying with the JCPOA but that the National Security Council will lead an interagency review of the deal to determine whether suspending the sanctions served U.S. national security interests.
  • Feb. 1, 2017: Then-U.S. national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn says the United States is putting Iran "on notice." Other officials in the Trump administration echo that sentiment in the following months.
  • Jan. 29, 2017: Iran carries out a test of a medium-range ballistic missile.
  • Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is inaugurated as U.S. president.
  • Nov. 8, 2016: Trump wins the U.S. presidential election. 
  • Feb. 25, 2016: Iran elects a new parliament and Assembly of Experts.
  • Jan. 16, 2016: JCPOA implementation day — Foreign buyers are now allowed to purchase Iranian oil without incurring penalties from secondary sanctions, opening up Iran's oil exports to all major markets except the United States. Through executive action, the United States suspends all nuclear-related secondary sanctions, including sanctions on non-U.S. entities in business with Iran. The European Union lifts most nuclear-related sanctions, removing the embargo on Iranian oil imports and enabling European companies to invest and operate in Iran.
Iran's Population Density
  • Oct. 18, 2015: JCPOA adoption day — Iran begins working to resolve the outstanding issues in its nuclear program. The United States approves sanction waivers contingent on Iran's compliance with the agreement once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifies it. The European Union passes legislation to remove sanctions on Iran once the IAEA verifies Iran's compliance.
  • July 14, 2015: JCPOA signed — Iran, the United States and five other countries sign the landmark nuclear deal in which Tehran agrees to resolve outstanding issues in its nuclear program in exchange for relief from U.S. and EU sanctions.

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