“We have a historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully,” President Barack Obama announced at a press conference earlier at the White House.
The opportunity the President is referring to is a framework agreement called “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” which, after months of negotiations, has reached a compromise balancing the interests of Iran and those of the P5+1 group (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) in regards to removing Iran’s capability to produce nuclear weapons.
Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, was the first to announce via Twitter that the negotiating nations have “found solutions.”
Found solutions. Ready to start drafting immediately.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 2, 2015
Shortly after, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini spoke of “good news,” the German Foreign Ministry, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, announced an “understanding had been reached on key points,” and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed via Twitter that today was a “big day.”
What Are the Details of the Framework Agreement?
According to the European Union High Commissioner and President Obama’s statement earlier today, the following are the key points defining the guidelines of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:
• Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility must be transformed into a physics & technology center, while no fissile material can remain there.
• Iran’s capability of building a nuclear bomb has been reduced to a minimum risk as the country must not enrich uranium over 3.67% for at least 15 years.
• 98% of current enriched uranium stockpiles in Iran will be reduced and neutralized – and remain so for a minimum of 15 years.
• Arak’s water reactor will be stripped of its capability to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
• Due to the new restrictions, lasting for at least 10 years under the agreement, it would take Iran one year to produce enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb – enough time for international monitors to detect and prevent such activity. This “breakout timeline” has been increased to one year from previously only 2-3 months.
• Iran has also agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
• International inspectors will have unprecedented access – for 20 years or more – to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities as well as the entire supply chain that supports the country’s nuclear program. “If Iran cheats, the world will know it,” Obama added in his statement. “This agreement will make Iran one of, if not the most monitored nuclear nation in the world,” Ann Curry, reporting for NBC News, confirmed.
Additionally, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) will be permitted to clarify past and present issues, which is crucial in reviewing if Iran ever had any plans to build a nuclear weapon in previous years.
Iran has always said that their atomic activity is peaceful. However, fearing violent outcomes, the West has imposed crippling sanctions on the country for continuing its enrichment of uranium.
In return for implementing this new agreement, the P5+1 group will relieve Iran of its heavy economic sanctions, which will occur as a phased approach to ensure that sanctions can be put back into place immediately if Iran violates any guidelines.
“This framework gives Iran an opportunity to verify that its nuclear program is, in fact, peaceful,” Obama concluded, adding that a more comprehensive deal based on today’s achievements will be drafted by June 30, 2015.