FPI Fact Sheet: Timeline on Diplomacy and Pressure on Iran's Nuclear Program (UPDATED)

July 7, 2014

This timeline highlights a decade’s worth of efforts by the United States and the international community to use diplomacy and pressure to persuade Iran to halt its drive to nuclear weapons-making capability.  It will be updated regularly.

Diplomacy TrackPressure Track
 Circa August 2002. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) learned that Iran had engaged in a host of undeclared nuclear activities relevant to a weapons program for nearly two decades. Iran, as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), is obligated to make correct and complete declarations of its nuclear material and related activities to IAEA inspectors.
 June 6, 2003. In a report to the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei wrote Iran “failed to meet its obligations” under its NPT-required IAEA safeguards agreement, and urged Iran to fully cooperate so nuclear inspectors can “provide credible assurances regarding the [current and future] absence of undeclared nuclear activities.”
October 21, 2003. Seeking to avoid sanctions in the U.N. Security Council, Iran began negotiations with Britain, France, and Germany (known collectively as the EU-3), and agreed to temporarily suspend activities related to uranium conversion and enrichment, to fully cooperate with the IAEA, and to sign the IAEA's Additional Protocol agreement that authorizes more intrusive nuclear inspections. 
November 10, 2003. IAEA Director General ElBaradei reported that Iran had agreed to “a policy of full disclosure and had decided to provide the Agency with a full picture of all of its nuclear activities.” 
 June 1, 2004.  In a report to the IAEA Board of Governors, IAEA Director General ElBaradei wrote that Iran was exploiting ambiguities in the definition of “suspension” to keep producing centrifuge components and carry out small-scale conversion experiments. He also discussed the alarming discovery of evidence that Iran had secretly imported designs and components for enrichment centrifuges from a “foreign intermediary” in the 1980s and 1990s. (NOTE: In November 2007, Iran would admit that the “foreign intermediary” was the nuclear proliferation network of Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan.)
November 15, 2004. To avoid sanctions once again, Iran signed the so-called “Paris Agreement” with the EU-3.  Under the pact, Iran committed not only to continue its temporary suspension of uranium conversion and enrichment activities—now defined to include the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges—but also to negotiate in good faith with the EU-3 to pursue a diplomatic solution. 
 June 28, 2005. President Bush signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which blocked property of weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters.  The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was one of eight entities listed in the annex of the E.O.
August 8, 2005. The EU-3 proposed a long-term agreement that, in exchange for Iran’s commitment not to pursue uranium enrichment and other nuclear fuel-making technologies for at least 10 years, offered to provide assured supplies of nuclear fuel, disposal arrangements for spent nuclear fuel, and cooperation on a variety of political and security issues in the region. 
 September 24, 2005. The IAEA’s Board of Governors thus adopted a resolution that found Iran to be in noncompliance with its NPT and IAEA safeguards obligations after Iran not only flatly rejected the EU-3’s proposal, but also told the IAEA that it would end its suspension of uranium conversion activities at the Esfahan facility. The IAEA's Board resolution also demanded that Iran halt all uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel-making activities until it fully resolves all of the IAEA’s concerns.
 November 22, 2005. President Bush signed into law the Iran Nonproliferation Amendments Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-112), which amended the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, and conditioned U.S.-Russian space cooperation in an effort to get the Kremlin to halt assistance to Iran on nuclear, missile, and advanced conventional weapons technologies.
June 1, 2006. In an effort to salvage nuclear diplomacy with Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (known collectively as the P5-plus-1) proposed a comprehensive long-term agreement that mirrored the EU-3’s earlier proposal, but also offered to jointly build light water nuclear reactors (LWRs) with Iran, and give Iran strong economic cooperation on civil aviation, telecommunications, and other sectors. 
 July 31, 2006. After Iran rejected the P5-plus-1’s proposal, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that endorsed the P5-plus-1’s proposal, demanded in a legally-binding manner that Iran suspend enrichment and other nuclear fuel-making activities by August 31, 2006, and promised sanctions if Iran fails to comply.
 December 27, 2006. In response to Iran's continuing failure to comply with international demands, the U.N. Security Council passed a second resolution that banned transfers of nuclear and missile technologies to Iran, and froze the foreign assets of named individuals and entities tied to the Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
 March 24, 2007. In response to Iran's continuing failure to comply with international demands, the U.N. Security Council passed a third resolution that banned Iranian arms exports and expanded the list of sanctioned Iranian individuals and entities.
August 27, 2007. In a surprise move, IAEA Director General ElBaradei worked with Iran to create a so-called “Work Plan” to address the international community’s “outstanding concerns” about the Iranian nuclear program. While ElBaradei claimed the IAEA Work Plan would provide a “litmus test” for Iran to come clean about its nuclear intentions, but the IAEA Work Plan undermined the U.N. Security Council’s demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment. 
November 15, 2007. As efforts on the IAEA Work Plan continued, Iran effectively admitted that A.Q. Khan’s nuclear proliferation network—which an official IAEA report referred to euphemistically as a “supply network”—had sold it designs and components for enrichment centrifuges. Iran, however, refused to answer the IAEA’s questions about activities related to uranium conversion, the testing of high-explosives relevant to detonating a nuclear warhead, and research relevant to delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. 
 March 3, 2008. In response to Iran's continuing failure to comply with international demands, the U.N. Security Council passed a fourth resolution that tightened restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities, increased vigilance against Iranian financial transactions, and authorized states to inspect Iranian cargo to prevent transfers of nuclear and other technologies.
 June 2, 2008. IAEA Director General ElBaradei conceded to the IAEA Board of Governors that, while the IAEA Work Plan had clarified certain concerns about Iran, it had failed to make progress on “the cluster of allegations and Secretariat questions relevant to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.” Although efforts to implement the IAEA Work Plan would continue for several years, Iran would consistently refuse to provide the level of transparency and information necessary to end concerns about the military dimensions of its nuclear program.
June 2008. With the IAEA Work Plan stalling, the P5-plus-1 offered Iran a revised version of its mid-2006 comprehensive long-term agreement that added financial assistance for Iran’s energy programs, the promise of fully normalizing economic and trade relations, support for Iran’s inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and other incentives. Negotiations in Geneva began soon thereafter, but effectively broke down when Iran’s various counterproposals ignored any substantial concessions on its controversial nuclear activities. Speaking days before the deadline set by world powers for Iran's reply, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, defiantly declared that Iran would “continue with its path” of nuclear development. 
 September 27, 2008.  In response to Iran's continuing failure to comply with international demands, the U.N. Security Council passed a fifth resolution that urged an end to Iranian nuclear intransigence.
March-September 2009. After taking office, President Obama sought to reinvigorate nuclear diplomacy with Iran, urging “better relations” through a recorded message to the Iranian people and government in March 2009, and letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, in May and September 2009. President Obama was slow to criticize on the Iranian regime's violent crackdown on nationwide protests in June 2009.

 

 
 

September 2009. In an apparent attempt to preempt disclosures by Western intelligence agenices, Iran admitted to the IAEA that it had secretly constructed Fordow, a uranium enrichment facility deep within a mountain on the grounds of an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base near the city of Qom. The United States, along with Britian and France, subsequently gave the IAEA further information about the Fordow facility, including "detail not provided by Iran."

October 2009. The Obama administration sought to advance nuclear diplomacy with Iran by proposing a “fuel swap” agreement in which Iran would receive a special form of enriched uranium fuel for a research reactor that produces medical isotopes, if it shipped the majority of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) to a neutral third-country. In October 2009, Iran tentatively agreed to the “fuel swap” plan, and the P5-plus-1 subsequently offered incentives to facilitate the agreement. However, Iran subsequently refused to definitively accept the plan, and offered counterproposals in the following months that eroded or negated the plan’s confidence-building measures. 
 November 27, 2009. The IAEA Board of Governors passed a new resolution that condemned Iran’s undeclared nuclear activities near Qom.
 January 27, 2010. During the State of the Union address, President Obama said that “as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise.”
Early-to-Mid 2010. Iran began to further enrich up its own low enriched uranium fuel to provocative levels. However, Brazil and Turkey attempted to revive with Iran a watered down version of the “fuel swap” plan in the early-to-mid 2010, but met with little success. 
 June 9, 2010. In response to Iran's continuing failure to comply with international demands, the U.N. Security Council passed a new resolution that imposed further sanctions on Iran’s nuclear-related activities, Iran’s shipping activities, and the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 
 July 1, 2010. President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-195), or CISADA, which imposed additional sanctions on Iran, and targeted foreign individuals and entities that aid Iran’s oil sector. President Obama declared “the United States and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.” Britain and other European nations also imposed additional sanctions to target Iran’s financial system.
January 2011.  The P5-plus-1 and Iran hold talks in Istanbul, Turkey, but fail to produce any agreement. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said she was “disappointed” with the talks. 
 May 22, 2011. In a speech at AIPAC’s annual policy conference, President Obama said that the United States remained “committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
July 12, 2011. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov outlined a “step by step” approach to nuclear talks with Iran. Under plan, Iran would address the international community’s individual concerns in exchange for gradual reduction of sanctions. 
October 21, 2011. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton sent letter to Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, urging “meaningful discussions on concrete confidence building steps” to address concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. 
 November 21, 2011. President Obama signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13590, which expanded existing energy-related sanctions on individuals who knowingly “sells, leases, or provides to Iran goods” that could be used to develop Iran’s petroleum resources.  The same day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury identified Iran’s entire financial sector as a “Primary Money Laundering Concern” under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
 December 31, 2011. President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81), section 1245 of which imposed sanctions on financial transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
 January 24, 2012. In the State of the Union address, President Obama said, "Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal."
 February 5, 2012. President Obama signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13599, which froze U.S.-based assets of the Central Bank of Iran and other entities controlled by the Government of Iran.
February 15, 2012. In response to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton’s October 2011 letter, Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili offered "new initiatives" to revive stalled nuclear talks. 
 March 4, 2012. In a speech to the AIPAC policy conference, President Obama said: "Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."
 March 14, 2012. During a press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama said: "We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
April 2012.  Nuclear negotiations between P5-plus-1 and Iran continued in Istanbul, Turkey. 
May 23-24, 2012. During negotiations in Baghdad, Iraq, the P5-plus-1 introduced a "detailed proposal" that lays out confidence-building measures for Iran to undertake. Iran rejected proposal. 
June 18-19, 2012. Negotiations between the P5-plus-1 and Iran continued in Moscow, Russia. 
 July 30, 2012. President Obama signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13622, which expanded existing sanctions on foreign financial institutions that conduct “significant” energy-related transactions with Iran.  However, under Sec. 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2012, countries that “reduce significantly in volume their purchases from Iran” can be exempt from this provision.
 August 10, 2012. President Obama signed into law the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-158), which strengthened existing sanctions on activities related to "Iran's energy and financial sectors, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses."
 September 25, 2012.  In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama said a nuclear-armed Iran "is not a challenge that can be contained," adding: "a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that's why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
 November 2012. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano reiterated that the IAEA “cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” Moreover, he stated that recent negotiations between Iran and IAEA had not delivered "concrete results."
 January 1, 2013.  President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law No: 112-239), which expanded existing sanctions on Iranian energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors.
 March 21, 2013. During a high-profile speech in Israel, President Obama said: "America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran."
April 5-6, 2013. The P5-plus-1 and Iran resumed negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Iran introduced proposal requiring world powers recognize Iran’s “right to enrich,” according to Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili. 
May 2013. IAEA and Iran failed to reach any agreement on “structured approach document” under negotiation since 2011. 
 July 31, 2013. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 (H.R. 850), legislation that would broaden and intensify current economic sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran for oil purchases.
November 7-8, 2013. The P5-plus-1 and Iran failed to produce a nuclear accord during talks in Geneva, but negotiators agreed to hold additional round of discussions on November 20, 2013. 
November 20-24, 2013. The P5-plus-1 and Iran resumed negotiations in Geneva. On November 24, world powers announced a six-month Joint Plan of Action, which outlines initial steps necessary to achieve a long-term nuclear agreement. 
December 9-12, 2013. The P5-plus-1 and Iran held expert-level talks in Vienna to work out details of the six-month Joint Plan of Action. 
 December 12, 2013. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated companies and individuals “involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related materiel and attempts to evade international sanctions against Iran.”
December 30-31, 2013. The P5-plus-1 and Iran continued negotiations in Geneva on details of implementing the six-month Joint Plan of Action. 
January 9-12, 2014. The P5-plus-1 and Iran continued negotiations in Geneva. On January 12, world powers and Iran reached a deal on implementing the six-month Joint Plan of Action, with implementation of the agreement scheduled to begin on January 20th. 
January 20, 2014. The six-month Joint Plan of Action enters into force for implementation. 
February 1, 2014.  Iran was sent the first installment of previously frozen assets worth $550 million.  Under the November 24th Joint Plan of Action, the United States and world powers agreed to repatriate a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian revenue previously held abroad. 
 February 6, 2014.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated companies and individuals for “evading U.S. sanctions against Iran, aiding Iranian nuclear and missile proliferation, and supporting terrorism.”
February 8-9, 2014.  Iran and the IAEA held technical meetings in connection with the November 11th Framework for Cooperation.  The IAEA reported: “Iran and the Agency reached agreement on seven practical measures to be implemented by Iran by 15 May 2014.” 
February 17-20, 2014.  Senior negotiators from the P5-plus-1 continue negotiations in Vienna.  On February 20, world powers and Iran agree on framework for negotiations.

 

March 1, 2014.  Iran was set to receive a second installment of previously frozen assets worth $450 million.  Under the November 24th Joint Plan of Action, the United States and world powers agreed to repatriate a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian revenue previously held abroad.

 

March 5-7, 2014.  Expert-level meetings took place in Vienna ahead of higher-level political discussions set to begin on March 17th..

 

March 7, 2014.  Iran was sent a third installment of previously frozen assets worth $550 million.  Under the November 24th Joint Plan of Action, the United States and world powers agreed to repatriate a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian revenue previously held abroad.

 

March 8-9, 2014.  EU High Representative Catherine Ashton traveled to Iran for high level meetings.

 

March 17-20, 2014.  P5-plus-1 and Iran held the second round of nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

 

April 3, 2014.  Expert-level meetings took place in Vienna ahead of higher-level political discussions set to begin on April 7th.

 

April 7-9, 2014.  P5-plus-1 and Iran held the third round of nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

 

April 10, 2014.  Iran was sent a fourth installment of previously frozen assets worth $550 million.  Under the November 24th Joint Plan of Action, the United States and world powers agreed to repatriate a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian revenue previously held abroad.

 

April 15, 2014.  Iran was sent a fifth installment of previously frozen assets worth $450 million.  Under the November 24th Joint Plan of Action, the United States and world powers agreed to repatriate a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian revenue previously held abroad.

 

 

April 29, 2014.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned individuals and entities for “aiding Iranian ballistic missile procurement and for support to the Government of Iran in evading oil sector sanctions."

May 6-7, 2014.  Expert-level meetings took place in New York ahead of higher-level political discussions set to begin on May 13th.

 

May 13-16, 2014.  P5-plus-1 and Iran held the fourth round of nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

 

May 21, 2014.  Iran and the IAEA reached agreement on “five additional practical measures to be implemented in the next step.

 

June 5-6, 2014.  Expert-level meetings took place in Vienna ahead of higher-level political discussions set to begin on June 16th.

 

June 8, 2014.  Iran was sent a sixth installment of previously frozen assets worth $550 million.  Under the November 24th Joint Plan of Action, the United States and world powers agreed to repatriate a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian revenue previously held abroad.  The sixth installment of frozen assets was originally schedule to be delivered on May 14.

 

June 9-10, 2014.  U.S. negotiators, led by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, held bilateral meetings with Iranian negotiators in Geneva.

 

June 16, 2014.  Prior to P5+1 negotiations, U.S. negotiators, led by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, held trilateral talks with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

 

June 16, 2014.  U.S. Deputy Secretary Bill Burns held a meeting with Iranian officials on the margins of the P5+1 meeting in Vienna to discuss the situation in Iraq.

 

June 16-20, 2014.  P5-plus-1 and Iran held the fifth round of nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

 

June 17, 2014.  Iran scheduled to receive a seventh installment of previously frozen assets worth $550 million.  Under the November 24th Joint Plan of Action, the United States and world powers agreed to repatriate a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian revenue previously held abroad.

 

 

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
Read More