Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.
US President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a “more hopeful world” and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that “constructive engagement works”. But Israel pledged to do what it could to halt what it called an “historic surrender”.
I’m a supporter of the deal. It has teeth in it which allows sanctions to resume quickly if Iran doesn’t abide by it.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters that the deal was about more than just the nuclear issue:
“The big prize here is that, as Iran comes out of the isolation of the last decades and is much more engaged with Western countries, Iranians hopefully begin to travel in larger numbers again, Western companies are able to invest and trade with Iran, there is an opportunity for an opening now.”
The Iranian Government does many bad things, especially its support of some Middle Eastern terror groups. But this gives an opportunity for Iran to rejoin the international community. The opportunity may end up being wasted, but it is worth pursuing.
– ENRICHMENT: Iran will reduce the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges it has from almost 20,000 to 6104, and reduce the number of those in use from some 10,000 to about half that. Those limits will be in place for 10 years, then gradually relaxed over the next three. Iran also commits to using only its current models, rather than more advanced centrifuges it had wanted to install. Centrifuges spin uranium to concentrate it into levels that can range from reactor fuel to the fissile core of a nuclear weapon.
– STOCKPILE: Iran has already rid itself of stockpiled uranium that was enriched to one step from weapons-grade material. It is now committed to reducing its remaining stockpile – less-enriched uranium that is harder to use for nuclear arms – from about five tons to 300 kilograms (less than 700 pounds) for 15 years. US officials say that at this level it would take Iran at least a year to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon.
– UNDERGROUND SITE: Iran committed to convert its Fordo enrichment site – dug deep into a mountainside and thought impervious to air attack – into a research center. The site will still house centrifuges but they will make medical isotopes instead of enriching uranium, and there will be less than a tenth as many of them as there originally were.
– TRANSPARENCY: Iran will give more access to its nuclear program to the UN nuclear agency. If that agency identifies a suspicious site, an arbitration panel with a Western majority will decide whether Iran has to give the agency access within 24 days. All sites, including military ones, may be inspected if the agency has solid evidence of undeclared nuclear activity.
– REACTORS AND REPROCESSING: Iran must redesign its nearly built reactor at Arak so it can’t produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.
– SANCTIONS: All US and European Union nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after experts have verified that Iran is hewing to its commitments. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its obligations, those sanctions are supposed to snap back into place. An arms embargo will stand for five years and restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile programmes for eight. Iran will get some access to currently restricted sensitive technologies.
The transparency requirement is the key part to me, with the ability for sanctions to resume.
This is not a perfect deal, but I think it is a lot better than the alternative.