Diplomatic efforts to reach a comprehensive, long-term and proper solution to the Iranian nuclear issue culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) concluded on 14 July 2015 by China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, the High Representative of the European Union (the E3/EU+3) and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
On 20 July 2015, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2231 (2015) endorsing the JCPOA. The Security Council affirmed that conclusion of the JCPOA marked a fundamental shift in its consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue, expressed its desire to build a new relationship with Iran strengthened by the implementation of the JCPOA and to bring to a satisfactory conclusion its consideration of this matter.
The Security Council further affirmed that full implementation of the JCPOA would contribute to building confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and emphasized that the JCPOA is conducive to promoting and facilitating the development of normal economic and trade contacts and cooperation with Iran.
Resolution 2231 (2015) provides for the termination of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue and establishes specific restrictions that apply to all States without exception. Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Security Council’s decisions.
Implementation timetable of resolution 2231 (2015)
Resolution 2231 (2015) urges full implementation of the JCPOA on the timetable established in JCPOA Annex V and sets forth the following steps for the eventual removal of Security Council sanctions on Iran:
Adoption Day occurred on 18 October 2015, 90 days after endorsement of the JCPOA by the Security Council through resolution 2231 (2015). At that point, the JCPOA came into effect.
Implementation Day occurred on 16 January 2016 when the Security Council received the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming that Iran has taken a series of nuclear-related actions specified in paragraphs 15.1-15.11 of JCPOA Annex V. Accordingly:
- The provisions of Security Council resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (2010) and 2224 (2015) have been terminated subject to re-imposition in the event of significant non-performance of JCPOA commitments (see below); and
- All States shall comply with the specific restrictions established by Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) for the duration specified in each paragraph or subparagraph.
More information on the specific restrictions established by Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) can be found under the heading of each subject matter on this website.
Transition Day will occur eight years from Adoption Day or upon receipt by the Security Council of the report from the IAEA stating that the IAEA has reached the Broader Conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities.
Resolution 2231 (2015) Termination Day
Ten years from Adoption Day, provided that the provisions of the previous Security Council resolutions have not been reinstated in the interim (see below), all the provisions of resolution 2231 (2015) shall be terminated and the Security Council will have concluded its consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue.
Role of the Security Council
Resolution 2231 (2015) provides for the Security Council to undertake directly tasks related to the implementation of the resolution, particularly with respect to the specific restrictions established in its Annex B, including to:
- monitor and take action to improve implementation of the resolution;
- answer inquiries from Member States and International Organizations;
- respond appropriately to information regarding alleged actions inconsistent with the resolution;
- undertake outreach to promote proper implementation of the resolution;
- review and decide on proposals by States for nuclear, ballistic missile, or arms-related transfers to or activities with Iran; and
- grant exemptions to the restrictions.
To facilitate its work under resolution 2231 (2015), the Security Council selects on an annual basis one of its member to serve as its Facilitator for these functions. The current Security Council Facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015), for the period ending 31 December 2021, is Her Excellency Ms. Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland). The Security Council Facilitator briefs the other members of the Council every six months, in parallel with the reporting by the Secretary General (see below).
Role of the Secretary-General
As requested by the Security Council, the Secretary-General reports to the Council every six months on the implementation of the provisions of resolution 2231 (2015).
The United Nations Secretariat also provides support to the work of the Security Council and its Facilitator in implementing resolution 2231 (2015), including by assisting the Facilitator in corresponding with Member States on behalf of the Council, maintaining and promoting publicly available information on the specific restrictions and providing administrative support for the Council’s review of Joint Commission recommendations.
Role of the International Atomic Energy Agency
The Security Council requested the IAEA to undertake the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA for their full duration. In addition to two reports already mentioned, the Security Council requested the IAEA to provide regular updates to the IAEA Board of Governors and, as appropriate, in parallel to the Security Council on Iran’s implementation of its commitments under the JCPOA and also to report to the IAEA Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council at any time if the Director General has reasonable grounds to believe there is an issue of concern directly affecting fulfilment of JCPOA commitments.
Role of the Joint Commission in the procurement channel
The role of the Joint Commission in the procurement channel is to review proposals for nuclear-related transfers to or activities with Iran with a view to recommending approval to the Security Council where consistent with this resolution and the provisions and objectives of the JCPOA.
The Joint Commission is comprised of representatives of the E3/EU+3 and Iran. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, or his/her representative, serves as the Coordinator of the Joint Commission.
The Joint Commission discharges its responsibility for reviewing and making recommendations on proposals by States to participate in or permit nuclear-related activities set forth in paragraph 2 of Annex B through a Procurement Working Group (PWG). The PWG procedures and timelines are specified in JCPOA Annex IV.
The Joint Commission will report to the Security Council at least every six months on the status of the PWG’s decisions and on any implementation issues.
Application of provisions of previous resolutions
Resolution 2231 (2015) stipulates that the Security Council, within 30 days of receiving a notification by a JCPOA participant State of an issue that the JCPOA participant State believes constitutes significant non-performance of commitments under the JCPOA, shall vote on a draft resolution to continue in effect the terminations of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions.
Resolution 2231 (2015) further stipulates that if the Security Council does not adopt a resolution to continue in effect the termination of previous resolutions, then effective midnight GMT after the thirtieth day after the notification to the Security Council, all of the provisions of resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (2010) and 2224 (2015) shall apply in the same manner as they applied before the adoption of resolution 2231 (2015).