Latest Developments 

The European Union and the United Kingdom have told Iran that they do not plan to remove sanctions on entities connected to Tehran’s missile and nuclear programs on October 18 as they had originally pledged to do in the 2015 nuclear deal, Reuters reported on June 28. Reasons cited by EU and British diplomats included Iran’s violations of the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); missile development; provision of suicide drones to Russia for use in its invasion of Ukraine; and possible future transfers to Russia of Iran’s ballistic missiles.  

Neither the EU nor the UK, however, appears willing to push for the snapback of United Nations sanctions, which would reset international pressure against the Islamic Republic. The United States left the deal in 2018 under President Donald Trump and reinstated nearly all previous sanctions. 

Expert Analysis 

“Europe faces a choice between defending Ukraine or shielding from accountability those attacking Ukraine. The bare minimum London and Brussels can do is not delist Iranian entities. But if the UK and EU will join Iran as parties violating the JCPOA, it makes little sense for them to delay the snapback of UN sanctions any longer.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor 

“While Europe is to be commended for working to stop the lapsing of missile, military, and nuclear entities from its sanctions list this October, it is not in the clear. Iran’s missile capabilities have drastically expanded since the last round of EU nonproliferation penalties in 2012. The EU must keep pace with this expanding threat by bridging the trans-Atlantic gap on Iran sanctions with the United States while working with the UK to snap back penalties at the UN Security Council. In so doing, Europe and the UK can prevent the legalization of Iran’s missile tests and transfers.” Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow 

While the EU has not officially commented on the reported decision, failure to delist these entities would constitute the first violation of the JCPOA by European states. The move would be particularly significant in light of the debate on the nuclear deal’s future as the Biden administration continues indirect bilateral negotiations on Iran’s nuclear enrichment.   

Iran’s Missile Development Persists 

Iran continues to develop and test ballistic missiles in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA. Since Iran entered the JCPOA in 2015, it has conducted at least 230 ballistic missile launches. 

On May 25, Iran unveiled and claimed to have tested its Khorramshahr-4 long-range ballistic missile, boasting that the weapon can evade radar detection. On June 6, Iranian leaders displayed what they claimed to be a newly developed hypersonic missile called “Fattah” or “Conqueror” in Farsi — a shorter-range, solid-propellant ballistic missile that they said could fly 13 to 15 times the speed of sound. Iran currently provides Russia with Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 suicide drones and more than 300,000 artillery shells. If Iran approves Moscow’s requests for ballistic missiles, it would constitute another violation of UNSCR 2231.  

Related Analysis 

How Congress Should Respond to an Interim Iran Deal,” by Richard Goldberg and Behnam Ben Taleblu 

Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program,” by Behnam Ben Taleblu 

Iran Reveals Newest Long-Range Ballistic Missile,” FDD Flash Brief 

Visual: Key Sunsets Under the JCPOA and UNSC Resolution 2231,” by Behnan Ben Taleblu and Andrea Stricker 

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