In 1996, the US Congress passed a bill to impose sanctions on Iran to target its oil production. The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) banned all investments over $20 million in the Iranian oil sector.
Washington threatened to enforce penalties against companies that violated the ISA.
At that time, the European Union protested against the ISA and branded it as a bill against international trade law.
Consequently, a Dutch company – which had a contract with an American firm – left Iran’s South Pars Gas Company. But France’s Total clinched a contract to cooperate with Iran in SPGC projects.
Later in 2012, the United Nations Security Council and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran.
Nonetheless, last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany) turned over a new leaf.
The agreement stipulated that all countries must comply with the council’s decisions with regard to Iran’s sanctions.
The accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), stresses all governments must fulfill their commitments under the deal.
This indicates that US President-elect Donald Trump cannot shirk responsibility when he takes the helm of the White House.
Although he has threatened to scrap the agreement, Tehran should remain committed to the JCPOA.
The Islamic Republic can mobilize the support of countries which have signed the deal to encourage them to adopt a firm stance against Washington in case it wants to violate the accord.
Even if Tehran fails to persuade these nations to take actions against the likely violation of the JCPOA, it can refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
This is because the breach of the accord will be tantamount to the violation of the council’s resolution.
Consequently, Iran can also lodge a complaint against the US on the basis of mechanisms stipulated in the agreement and forward the case to other international bodies if Trump decides to use its veto power in the Security Council.
Hence, the Islamic Republic can pursue legal ways rather than take a unilateral stance, because it may provoke the international community to take anti-Iran approaches.
The actions of the next US administration against the JCPOA can change the world’s political ambience in favor of Iran, because these actions run counter to the decisions of the Security Council and the international community. Tehran can use such an opportunity to follow up its national interests.
* Hermidas Bavand is professor of international law and international relations.