The third sanctions were imposed in December 2006 pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 after Iran refused to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1696, which demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment program. Initially, U.S. sanctions targeted investments in oil, gas, and petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum products, and business dealings with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It encompassed banking and insurance transactions (including with the Central Bank of Iran), shipping, web-hosting services for commercial endeavors, and domain name registration services. Subsequent UN Resolutions have expanded sanctions against Iran.
Over the years, sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran's economy and people. Since 1979, the United States has led international efforts to use sanctions to influence Iran's policies, including Iran's uranium enrichment program, which Western governments fear is intended for developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran counters that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, including generating electricity and medical purposes.
When nuclear talks between Iran and Western governments were stalled and seen as a failure, U.S. senators cited them as a reason to enforce stronger economic sanctions on Iran. On 2 April 2015, the P5+1 and Iran, meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, reached a provisional agreement on a framework that, once finalized and implemented, would lift most of the sanctions in exchange for limits on Iran's nuclear programs extending for at least ten years. The final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was adopted on 18 October 2015. As a result, UN sanctions were lifted on 16 January 2016. On 8 May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Sanctions by the United States were reinstated in November 2018, and expanded in 2019 and 2020 to cover Iran's financial sector. Temporary waivers were granted to some countries to continue importing reduced amounts of oil from Iran until 2019.
On 21 February 2020, Iran was placed on the FATF blacklist.
The UN arms embargo on Iran expired on 18 October 2020, as agreed in Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, allowing Iran to import foreign military equipment.