Reading Room

Iran Nuclear Agreement

On September 17, 2015 the sixty-day congressional review period for the Iran deal expired. Throughout last week the Senate voted on multiple resolutions to prevent the Obama administration from waiving sanctions on Iran as required under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). All resolutions failed to gather the necessary 60 votes required to stop the deal. This means that the agreement with Iran will not be undermined by the U.S. Congress.

Iran still must complete a number of actions before sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program are lifted. First, the JCPOA must pass Iran’s own internal review process via a vote by the Iranian parliament. Iran must also provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with access to past possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. This must be completed by October 15.

Adoption day for the JCPOA is October 18. Before any sanctions relief is received Iran must disassemble the Arak heavy-water plutonium reactor, disassemble and store over 13,000 uranium centrifuges, cease production of uranium enrichment at the Fordow site, reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium from around 12,000 kg to 300 kg, and allow the IAEA monitoring at agreed upon sites.

In a September 16 statement at the IAEA 59th General Conference, Ali Ahkbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, restated Iran’s commitment to run a peaceful nuclear energy program that operates within the guidelines of the IAEA. Salehi also reiterated the need for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of Nuclear Weapons and insisted that the Nuclear Weapon States “uphold their commitments to meet their obligations envisaged in article 6” of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Article 6 would require all nuclear weapon states to completely eliminate their nuclear weapons arsenals.

Last Wednesday the White House announced that Obama will host Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, in Washington on November 9. The White House announcement stated that Obama was interested in discussing the implementation of the JCPOA and “countering Tehran’s destabilizing activities” in the Middle East.

Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the JCPOA. On March 3, 2015, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress claiming that the deal being negotiated “would all but guarantee that Iran gets those [nuclear] weapons, lots of them.” Netanyahu’s criticism has caused a great deal of tension between Netanyahu and the Obama administration. The upcoming November meeting will be an attempt to quell these tensions. There has been reasonable concern that meetings between Netanyahu and the White House will result in increased military assistance to Israel as a consolation prize for the Iran deal.

Click here for the Joint Statement announcing the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

Click here to read the full text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Click here to read Annex 1 to the JCPOA on nuclear related commitments.

Click here to read Annex 2 to the JCPOA on sanctions related commitments.

Click here to read Annex 3 to the JCPOA on civil nuclear cooperation.

Click here to read Annex 4 to the JCPOA on the joint commission.

Click here to read Annex 5 to the JCPA, the implementation plan.

Click here to read endorsements of the Iran Nuclear Deal from 60 of America's top national security leaders.

Click here to read an article about the UN Security Council's endorsement of the Iran Nuclear Deal