It is my understanding that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) exchanges a limitation of the nuclear activities of Iran against a reduction or even abolisment of the sanctions against Iran.

On 8 May 2018 the US withdrew from the agreement, while the other signatories (Iran, Russia, UK, Germany, China, France and EU) kept supporting the agreement. Since withdrawing, the US reimposed sanctions agains Iran, including secondary sanctions. It is my understanding that the practical effect of the secondary sanctions is that the sanctions are back to a level that matches at least the pre-JCPOA level. This despite European efforts to blunt the effect with the creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle. Which makes me wonder where the upside is for Iran in sticking to the JCPOA.

Apart from possible goodwill that may come with being considered men of their word, what is, at the moment, the benefit Iran is getting from adhering to the JCPOA?

I am aware that Iran is threatning to violate the JCPOA in a near future. I'm not asking about consequences or likeliness of that happening.

  • The answer seems to be in your question. As you point out the sections are back to pre-JCPOA levels for all practical intents in spite of EU efforts to work around US sanctions, and as a result Iran is threatening to violate the JCPOA. Meaning the benefit (in their view anyway) seems very slim. Jun 22, 2019 at 17:22
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    @DenisdeBernardy that is my feeling indeed. But maybe I'm missing something. Which is why I asked the question. Jun 22, 2019 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


The tangible benefit they have gained from sticking to the JCPOA has been the willingness of states other than the US to trade with them, and to skirt the edge of US sanctions.

The political benefit they have gained has been to make the Trump Administration look (to the world outside the US) like the aggressor, creating a crisis for its own political purposes.

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    I'm sorry, but this answer does not answer the question: "What benefit is Iran getting from JCPOA after the US withdrawal?". It describes the effects from the perspective of the US, but not from the perspective of Iran as the question asked about.
    – Philipp
    Jun 23, 2019 at 11:00
  • @Philipp: Better? Jun 23, 2019 at 11:40
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    No, I don't think this answer is much better now. So Iran gets "the willingness of states other than the US to trade with them". How much trade is happening? What are the main imports and exports? How does this compare to pre-JCPOA and to the time during which the US was still backing the JCPOA? I think that's what the author of the question actually wants to know.
    – Philipp
    Jun 23, 2019 at 12:52

The economic benefits are now greatly reduced due to the US sanctions, but another benefit for Iran is that almost all countries now accept that Iran's nuclear energy program does not pose a security risk. While the US and Israel don't agree with this assessment, they have failed to convince the rest of the World.

Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium on an industrial scale in the future when the need for that would arise. Iran fought hard to get the World to agree that they should have this right. When Iran was denied that right by the UNSC, Iran escalated the dispute by building more and more centrifuges and enriching uranium to make their enrichment program a fait accompli. Then later with the deal in place, Iran agreed to limit their enrichment activities (which didn't have an immediate useful use for a peaceful program) in exchange for being allowed to do anything they wish on the nuclear front for which there is a practical need.

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