Verification of the Iran Deal

Project duration

August 2018 - February 2019

Project staff

Principal investigator: Dr Trevor Findlay, Senior Research Fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne
Research assistant: Zhongzhou Peng


John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


The Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), concluded in July 2015 by Iran and the so-called EU/3+3 (the European Union, China, France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom), was a landmark nuclear agreement. Commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, it has imposed constraints on Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief and assistance in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Monitoring and verification of Iran's compliance with the JCPOA is a critical part of the agreement. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a multilateral organisation based in Vienna, was charged with undertaking the task.

The parties began taking steps to implement the agreement on Adoption Day, October 19, 2015. On May 8, 2018, less than two and a half years later, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the JCPOA and reimpose sanctions on Iran. The future of the agreement is now uncertain. All the other parties have pledged to remain in the accord for now and have been conducting consultations to that end. Meanwhile, the IAEA is carrying on verifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA until instructed otherwise by the parties, or by the UN Security Council which endorsed the accord.

The project

The project focuses on the role of the IAEA in monitoring and verification of the JCPOA. The project will produce a major report to be published later in 2018 that traces the verification record from Implementation Day until the U.S. withdrawal. In addition, the project will track how the verification system fares as Iran and other parties to the JCPOA react to the U.S. withdrawal. A critical question will be whether Iran continues to comply with all the obligations imposed on it or whether it will start to derogate from the agreement. Updates will be posted on this website as developments occur. Regardless of whether the Iran agreement survives or not, the project will seek to draw lessons from the verification experience that might be employed to strengthen future similar endeavours.