The United Kingdom, France, and Germany have opted to maintain sanctions on Iran as a means to discourage Tehran from supplying drones and missiles to Russia.
In 2015, Iran entered into a nuclear agreement that included the prospect of lifting certain sanctions next month. However, the European nations argue that Iran violated the agreement by enriching and stockpiling uranium.
Iran has responded by labeling this move “illegal and provocative” and asserting that it clearly breaches the terms of the nuclear deal.
According to European diplomatic sources, the decision to retain sanctions is motivated not only by the desire to prevent Iran from benefiting economically but also to minimize the risk of Tehran transferring ballistic missiles to Russia. Iran has already sold numerous drones to Moscow, which have been used in the conflict in Ukraine.
The E3 countries explicitly stated that these sanctions are aimed at “sustaining measures related to nuclear proliferation concerning Iran, as well as embargoes on arms and missiles.”
The European powers have announced their intention to incorporate expiring United Nations sanctions into their own legal frameworks. Some of these measures are designed to prevent Iran from developing and exporting ballistic missiles and drones. Despite these sanctions, Russia has deployed Iranian-made drones in its conflict in Ukraine.
Iran initially agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) eight years ago, a deal involving a group of world powers known as the P5+1: the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany. Under the 2015 accord, Iran committed to limiting its sensitive nuclear activities and granting access to international inspectors in exchange for the removal of crippling economic sanctions. The agreement also prohibited the purchase, sale, or transfer of drones and missiles to and from Iran.
The JCPOA envisioned a “transition day” eight years later when remaining sanctions related to ballistic missiles and nuclear activities would be lifted from Iran. The agreement also included an asset freeze targeting individuals and organizations believed to be advancing Iran’s nuclear program.
Countries like Russia and China will no longer be bound by these restrictions if they do not implement sanctions similar to those imposed by the UK, France, and Germany before October 18. The E3 nations, collectively known as the E3, have declared that the sanctions will persist until Iran fully complies with the terms of the deal.
Iran contends that this decision flagrantly violates the E3’s obligations under the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to engage in any activities related to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The E3, however, maintains that their decision aligns with the JCPOA because Iran has twice declined opportunities to return to compliance and has expanded its program beyond the JCPOA’s limitations without credible civilian justifications.