After months of negotiations, Iran and key world powers have agreed on the framework of a landmark deal that is aimed at addressing Western concerns about Tehran’s nuclear programme.
The “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” – described by US President Barack Obama as a “good deal” that meets core objectives – is aimed at getting Iran to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98% and scale back the number of installed centrifuges.
In exchange, the US and the European Union will lift sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy for decades.
Iran’s “breakout timeline”, the time it would take for the country to acquire enough fissile material for a weapon, is currently assessed to be two to three months. Under the framework, this will be extended to at least one year for a period of at least 10 years.
Some of the key parameters of the deal, which has to be finalised by June 30, are given below:
Iran's enrichment capacity, enrichment level and stockpile will be limited for specified durations, and there will be no enrichment facility other than the one at Natanz. Iran's research and development on centrifuges will be carried out at a level and schedule that has been mutually agreed.
A US fact sheet said Iran had agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges, going from 19,000 installed centrifuges to 6,104, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years.
The US also said Iran had agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67% for at least 15 years and that Tehran would reduce its current stockpile of 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium to 300 kg of 3.67% LEU for 15 years.
Excess centrifuges and enrichment equipment will be placed in IAEA-monitored storage and be used only as replacements.
The underground enrichment facility at Fordow, near the city of Qom, will be converted so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium for at least 15 years. The facility will be used for peaceful purposes as a nuclear, physics, technology and research center and there will be no fissile material at Fordow.
Iran will not use its advanced centrifuges, such as the IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models, to produce enriched uranium for at least 10 years. Iran will only engage in limited research and development with these advanced centrifuges.
Video: World leaders react to historic Iran nuclear deal
Inspections and transparency
The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, and with the use of modern monitoring technologies.
IAEA inspectors will have access to the supply chain for Iran’s nuclear programme and monitor materials and components to prevent diversion to a secret programme.
They will also have access to uranium mines and surveillance at uranium mills where Iran produces yellowcake, a type of uranium concentrate powder, for 25 years.
A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear programme will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology.
Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA greater access and information regarding its nuclear programme, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address IAEA’s concerns about the “Possible Military Dimensions” of its nuclear programme.
Reactors and reprocessing
According to the US, Iran agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by Western powers, so that it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium and support only peaceful research.
The reactor’s original core, which would have enabled production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from Iran.
The US also said Iran had “committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel”.
The US has said Iran will receive “sanctions relief if it verifiably abides by its commitments”. The US added: “Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
Nuclear-related sanctions of the US and EU will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all the key nuclear-related steps. “If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place,” the US said.
But US sanctions on Iran for terrorism, rights abuses and ballistic missiles will remain in place.
All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted once Tehran acts to address key concerns on enrichment, transparency, the Fordow and Arak facilities and Possible Military Dimensions of its nuclear programme.
However, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, without naming the US, described the fact on the framework as “spin”.
“The solutions are good for all, as they stand,” he tweeted. “There is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on.”
Though Zarif did not refer to the US by name, no other member of the P5+1 negotiating group, which comprises the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, had issued a similar fact sheet.