Global Insights: As Interim Nuclear Deal With Iran Takes Effect, Uncertainty Remains

Global Insights: As Interim Nuclear Deal With Iran Takes Effect, Uncertainty Remains

The implementation agreement for the interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 in November, in which Iran consents to constrain its nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief, officially entered into effect yesterday. The text of the implementation deal, finalized Jan. 12, remains confidential. But the White House released a summary that, while answering some important questions, still leaves uncertain whether the interim deal will achieve its main purpose of transitioning to a more comprehensive agreement.

The implementation framework specifies the phasing and technical details of the reciprocal concessions the parties made in the interim agreement. These will occur gradually, with concessions by one side matched by those by the other. Iran will refrain from enriching uranium above 5 percent, which is the level used in civilian nuclear power reactors; increasing its stockpile of 5 percent enriched uranium; reprocessing spent uranium fuel into plutonium; constructing new enrichment facilities; or installing or manufacturing new centrifuges, except for replacements of damaged machines. Iran will also downblend its stocks of near-20 percent uranium into a less usable form as well as suspend construction work at the Natanz and Fordow uranium enrichment plants and the unfinished Arak heavy water reactor.

Furthermore, Iran will permit inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) more intrusive and frequent access—daily rather than weekly—to its enrichment facilities as well as, for the first time, allow access to its centrifuge assembly and rotor production plants. Iran will also provide more data to the IAEA on the design of its Arak reactor, its centrifuge production and its future nuclear activities. As a result, the general nature of the Iranian nuclear program will become more transparent.

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