National Beat Reporter
Iran, the United States, and five other world powers have reached a historic preliminary framework agreement for a plan to limit Iran’s nuclear program for 15 years. After two years of negotiations and decades of tense relations between Iran and the United States, Iran will be agreeing to several stipulations in exchange for relief from certain longstanding sanctions. A final deal is expected to be announced by the end of June. This multifaceted story contains many historical, political, and cultural levels that can’t possibly be covered completely, but what follows is a basic breakdown of the deal.
Quid Pro Quo
Iran’s economy has been crippled by sanctions imposed by both the U.S. and the UN Security Council for years following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. In order for Iran to remain competitive in the 21st century and grow its economy, they need these sanctions lifted. In order to get them removed, they had to make a deal with the U.S. and other world powers, the details of which were decided by diplomatic representatives from the negotiating nations in Lausanne, Switzerland. In exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions, Iran agrees to place limits on and slowly reduce its sophisticated nuclear program.
Iranian Nuclear Program
For centuries, Iran has been an extremely active center of cultural, religious, scientific, and political thought. Because of this, Iranian national pride runs very deep. With the growing influence and power of Western nations during the 19th and 20th centuries, Iran has been struggling against what it sees as Western efforts to control or weaken Iran and its influence in the region. Iran’s nuclear program has gone beyond its peaceful purpose of supplying power, and has become a type of deterrent against a potential attack or invasion from Western nations and their allies. The more the world tells Iran it cannot continue its nuclear program, the more important maintaining the program becomes for Iranian nationalism.
In terms of Iranian domestic politics, the nuclear program has become a hot button issue on which many politicians campaign. In the aftermath of the U.S.’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2001 and 2003, this intense Iranian nationalism and commitment to the nuclear program led to an anti-U.S. majority in the Iranian parliament in 2004 and brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power in 2005.
Although having a sophisticated nuclear program has kept Iran free from invasions or attacks, its economy continues to suffer. Iran has reached a point where it must relinquish its deterrents and perceived security in exchange for having a population whose quality of life is worth securing. The deal will involve Iran pursuing a peaceful nuclear program with the sole intent of providing its citizens with power.
The Nitty Gritty
The process to craft a nuclear bomb involves uranium and plutonium, and Iran has the technology to enrich these and other materials to make an atomic bomb. The deal will involve Iran limiting its uranium production materials for at least 10 years. Iran will have to reduce the amount and quality of the enriched uranium produced, and will ban building any new enrichment facilities for the next 15 years. Iran has also agreed to cut its number of operating centrifuges by two-thirds.
Currently, Iran has enough materials to develop a nuclear weapon in two to three months. The amount of time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon with their current nuclear infrastructure has often been referred to as a “breakout time” and has been a key issue in the negotiations. The stipulations in the agreement would effectively increase Iran’s breakout time to one year. Iran has also agreed to invasive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency will have access to all disclosed and undisclosed enrichment facilities, supply chains, and uranium sources.
In return, the U.S. promises to offer sanctions relief to Iran, as well as lifting any UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Even with all these imposed changes, Iran will still be subject to the guidelines of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The framework agreement does not contain any stipulations regarding Iran’s history of funding terrorism in neighboring countries, nor its reputation of repeated human rights abuses.
The technical details of the plan have yet to be written and are expected to be completed by June 30.