Project Description

Iran’s Countermeasures to US Withdrawal from JCPOA and the Trigger Mechanism

Author: Faramarz Yadegarian. Iranian Review for UN Studies (IRUNS), Vol. 2, Issue 2, Serial Number 3, July 2019, pp. 89-110.


The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA can be considered the main source of new political tensions between Iran and the United States during Donald Trump’s administration. After Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and official reimposition of all sanctions lifted as part of the deal, the Islamic Republic continued to remain committed to the deal. However, following cancellation of a multitude of commercial contracts and the failure of the INSTEX to meet Iran’s needs, the Islamic Republic of Iran took some gradual steps to reduce its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA. With the fifth step, Iran shall no longer consider itself bound to any restrictions imposed upon it under the JCPOA. In addition, Iran has often considered closing the Strait of Hormuz as a viable option among its security countermeasures. Despite Iran’s absolute right to respond in kind to violation of commitments by the US, the fact remains that such a course of actions by Iran would have significant international consequences and grave ramifications, such as re-imposition of all UN sanctions (consistent with Clause 8 of Security Council Resolution 2231), new additional measures/sanctions (according to Articles 41 & 42 of UN Charter), negative impact and adverse effects on the litigation Iran pursues against the United States (based on the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights 1955) in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Therefore, Iran’s best response strategy against violations of US commitments would be a legal one, such as taking action through the Joint Commission per clause 36, referring the dispute to the ICJ according to an agreement, and pursuing its Treaty of Amity case.


Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Strait of Hormuz, United Nations Security Council, International Court of Justice.