Following the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action on November 24, 2013, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany concluded an Interim Agreement with Iran over its nuclear program on January 12, 2014. In exchange for certain concessions by Iran over its nuclear program, the EU has agreed to suspend the application of certain restrictive measures.

Modest relaxation of certain US sanctions against Iran is anticipated, but the details have not yet been made public. However, a draft EU Regulation implementing the EU suspensions has been made available and is expected to be published on January 20, or soon thereafter. If adopted in its current form, it will apply the following suspensions of EU sanctions for a period of six months from the date on which the suspensions take effect:

Fewer authorizations required for transfer of funds

The thresholds currently set for authorizations for transfers of funds involving Iranian financial institutions or other Iranian persons and entities will be increased ten-fold, from €100,000 to €1 million, or if at €40,000, then to €400,000. However, transfers of €10,000 up to the thresholds mentioned above will still have to be notified to the competent authorities.

Suspension of certain trade restrictions on crude oil

While the current prohibition on import and purchase of crude oil and certain petroleum products remains intact, the proposed Regulation will allow the transport of crude oil (falling under tariff heading 2709 00). In addition, the prohibition on providing insurance and re-insurance related to the import, purchase and transport of crude oil will be suspended.

Suspension of prohibitions on petrochemical products

The current prohibition on the import, purchase and transport of petrochemical products that originate in Iran or have been exported from Iran, as well as the provision of related financing, financial assistance, insurance and re-insurance, will be suspended. In line with this suspension, a new derogation will be introduced to permit the release of frozen funds and economic resources, or allow them to be made available, to the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum if necessary for the execution of petrochemical contracts.

Suspension of prohibitions on gold and precious metals

The current prohibition on transporting, importing, selling, supplying or otherwise trading gold, silver and other precious metals with the Iranian government or related bodies and persons will be suspended. However, it seems that the same prohibition on diamonds will remain in place.

For more information on EU sanctions or the proposed regulation, please contact Paulette Vander Schueren at +32 2 551 5950 or Zia Gheewalla at +32 2 551 5974. For information on US sanctions, please contact Simeon M. Kriesberg at +1 202 263 3214 or Carol Bilzi at +1 202 263 3202.