A Step in the Right Direction: The Framework to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon

The international community has taken harsh measures to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, including imposing severe economic sanctions, and more intrusive actions, such as Stuxnet. Throughout his time in office, President Obama has maintained his commitment to resolving this issue diplomatically. When Hassan Rouhani became president of Iran in 2013, he agreed to negotiate the terms of Iranian nuclear policy with the hopes of lifting some of the aforementioned sanctions.

Yesterday the negotiations between the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany and an EU representative) nations and Iran took a monumental step towards relieving international tension, when the group unveiled the Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) parameters are summarized below.

“Enrichment”: These parameters increase the minimum amount of time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon to at least a year. That would be a vast improvement from the current threshold which is “assessed to be 2 to 3 months.” Extending this “breakout timeline” would give international inspectors a larger window to discover potential progressions towards nuclear weapons. In order to extend this amount of time, Iran will significantly decrease its number of operational centrifuges, “not enrich Uranium over 3.67 percent for 15 years,” and forfeit almost all of its stockpiled Uranium to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Reactors and Reprocessing”: Iran will deconstruct and replace the Arak heavy-water reactor with a P5 1 approved reactor that will not be able to produce Plutonium. They will also never reprocess nor research reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, which is a key step towards developing weapons grade material.

“Inspections and Transparency”: The IAEA will regularly inspect all facilities relating to nuclear energy. This includes Uranium mines and mills (for the next 25 years), centrifuge storage and production (for the next 20 years), and all enrichment facilities, including Natanz and Fordow.

In his speech on the JCPOA yesterday, President Obama applauded the parties involved for agreeing to the JCPOA’s framework. However, he acknowledged that this was indeed just a framework, and not yet a binding agreement. He emphasized that if this framework did not translate to a concrete agreement, or an agreement was reached but Iran did not stipulate to all of the terms, that the economic sanctions would remain in place. If all of the JCPOA’s stipulations are agreed upon and followed, then the U.S. would gradually ease the imposed sanctions. The President clarified that this ease of sanctions solely applies to those imposed because of Iran’s nuclear program. Sanctions imposed because of Iran’s human rights violations and their support of terrorist organizations will remain intact.

Additional resources relating to Iranian nuclear policy available at the Homeland Security Digital Library (some resources may require HSDL login) include:


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