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Iran sanctions

For many years the Iranian economy suffered from American and European sanctions and UN resolutions. Here, we provide an overview of the sanctions since 1979.

History of sanctions

The first sanctions were passed from 1979 to 1987, especially by the US, after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Iranian capital in the US was frozen and there was an embargo for goods and services.

In 1995 the Iran was put on the Blacklist of countries supporting terrorism. This led to further sanctions like an oil embargo and a prohibition to invest in the Iranian oil industry.

In 2005 things got worse again when Mahmud Ahmadinedschad was elected Iranian President. News of an Iranian nuclear programme broke as early as 2002. Ahmadinedschad defied the instructions of the UN Security Coucil to stop the programme. In 2006 a UN resolution was passed to freeze capital and enact an arms and trade embargo.

After Ahmadinedschad’s re-election in 2009 the sanctions were tightened. They affected banks as well as privat capital of members of the Iranian government. Leader in imposing sanctions was again the US. But the UN also passed sanctions against banks and extended the arms embargo. The EU followed with various sanctions as well. Capital was frozen, sanctions against banks were passed, financial transfer was blocked and an oil embargo was enacted.

End of sanctions

In July 2014 the five UN veto powers and Germany agreed with Iran on an action plan, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), to settle the quarrel about the Iranian atom program. The JPOA controls the repatriation of the Iranian atom program. In return, the sanctions against Iran are lifted gradually. Hundreds of Iranians celebrated the agreement in the atom conflict in the streets of Teheran.  Especially young Iranians long for an economic opening and new perspectives. Opponents of this approach, primarily Israel and Saudi Arabia but also parts of the U. S. convention, are critical of the agreement with Iran. The mistrust of the contractual performance by Iran is counteracted by a mechanism to quickly restore sanctions. How probably such „snap back“ will be, depends on the political willingness of the contracting parties. Iran on his part tries to send confidence-building signals by not only satisfying the action plan but also offering investment incentives for foreign companies. The EU should lift the economic and financial sanctions on the day, the IAEA declares that Iran has followed the essential principles for the reduction of the nuclear program (the so-called “Implementation day”). Assuming that experts expect the earliest date by the end of the first quarter, the IAEA could already confirm the efforts of Iran to move the action plan on the 16th of January 2016.

Overview Iran-Embargo


Islamic Revolution


Freezing of Iranian assets in the US and the imposition of a trade embargo on goods and services


Trade embargo for oil and ban on investment for companies in Iran’s oil industry


Announcement of the Iranian nuclear weapons program


Election Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian President, UN Resolution to freeze the assets, arms embargo and trade sanctions (by the EU)


Ahmadinejad re-election with the result of the confirmation of the UN sanctions against banks and financial transactions, extending the arms and oil trade embargo and extension of the measures by the EU


5 UN veto countries, Germany and Iran agree to JCPOA to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program


Positive results in the implementation of JCPOA, easing of sanctions

Chronology of Agreement Relaxation and cancellation of the embargo


Geneva Agreement

UN-veto powers, Germany and Iran achieve a breakthrough in the nuclear Dispute.Agreement to limit uranium enrichment.


Finalisation day

Inspectors of the IAEA and the US government confirm that Iran fulfils the Geneva Agreement.
Relaxation of sanctions takes place.


Action plan (JCPOA)

Elaboration of an action plan (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) leading to the final abolition of sanctions and, eventually, a permanently civil use of the nuclear energy.


Adoption day

Reduction of the nuclear programme according to the JCPOA action plan becomes effective.


Implementation day

Inspectors of the IAEA confirm the reduction of the nuclear programme. In accordance to the agreement economic and financial sanctions will drop

bis 2023

Transition day

In 2023 the latest, or following a respective report of the IAEA about the civil use of nuclear energy, the sanctions will be dropped.

Repealed and acitve Penalties in the overview*

Repealed sanctions

  • Money transfer with Iranian credit- and financial institutions and Banks
  • Trading related to oil, oil transports, oil products, petrochemical products and natural gas
  • Trading related to marine equipment
  • ]Trading related to gold, precious metals and Diamonds
  • Providing of oil tankers
  • Export credit insurance

Authorisation requirements still in existence

  • Duel Use goods – goods which can be used for civil as well as military purposes
  • nuclear-relevant goods which are gathered by the international export controlling regime of the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group)
  • Goods related to further distribution or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Software to use in Nuclear and military industry
  • Graphites, raw metals and metal products

Prohibitions still existing

  • Weapon embargo AWV §§74 ff.
  • Goods of the Iran-embargo regulation MTCR III
  • Financial sanctions against listed people and organisations EU-VO No. 267/2012
  • Goods which can be used for internal repression EU-VO No. 359/2011

*Due to constantly changing regulations there is no claim to completeness or correctness.