Michael KreponIran Deal: Reading The Fine Print

The text of the nuclear limitation agreement with Iran (AKA “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”) has been released and can be found here [link fixed]. Several key provisions are reprinted below. I’ll post key verification provisions separately, with my assessment of their utility.

Iran will begin phasing out its IR-1 centrifuges in 10 years. During this period, Iran will keep its enrichment capacity at Natanz at up to a total installed uranium enrichment capacity of 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges. Excess centrifuges and enrichment-related infrastructure at Natanz will be stored under IAEA continuous monitoring.

There will be no additional heavy water reactors or accumulation of heavy water in Iran for 15 years. All excess heavy water will be made available for export to the international market.

For 15 years Iran will not, and does not intend to thereafter, engage in any spent fuel reprocessing or construction of a facility capable of spent fuel reprocessing, or reprocessing R&D activities leading to a spent fuel reprocessing capability, with the sole exception of separation activities aimed exclusively at the production of medical and industrial radio-isotopes from irradiated enriched uranium targets.

Iran will fully implement the “Roadmap for Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues” agreed with the IAEA, containing arrangements to address past and present issues of concern relating to its nuclear programme as raised in the annex to the IAEA report of 8 November 2011 (GOV/2011/65). Full implementation of activities undertaken under the Roadmap by Iran will be completed by 15 October 2015, and subsequently the Director General will provide by 15 December 2015 the final assessment on the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues to the Board of Governors, and the E3+3, in their capacity as members of the Board of Governors, will submit a resolution to the Board of Governors for taking necessary action, with a view to closing the issue, without prejudice to the competence of the Board of Governors.

Iran will allow the IAEA to monitor the implementation of the voluntary measures for their respective durations, as well as to implement transparency measures, as set out in this JCPOA and its Annexes. These measures include: a long-term IAEA presence in Iran; IAEA monitoring of uranium ore concentrate produced by Iran from all uranium ore concentrate plants for 25 years; containment and surveillance of centrifuge rotors and bellows for 20 years; use of IAEA approved and certified modern technologies including on-line enrichment measurement and electronic seals; and a reliable mechanism to ensure speedy resolution of IAEA access concerns for 15 years.

Iran will not engage in activities, including at the R&D level, that could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device, including uranium or plutonium metallurgy activities.

The EU and its Member States and the United States, consistent with their respective laws, will refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran inconsistent with their commitments not to undermine the successful implementation of this JCPOA.

Transition Day is the date 8 years after Adoption Day or the date on which the Director General of the IAEA submits a report stating that the IAEA has reached the Broader Conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities, whichever is earlier. On that date, the EU and the United States will take the actions described in Sections 20 and 21 of Annex V respectively and Iran will seek, consistent with the Constitutional roles of the President and Parliament, ratification of the Additional Protocol.

If Iran believed that any or all of the E3/EU+3 were not meeting their commitments under this JCPOA, Iran could refer the issue to the Joint Commission for resolution; similarly, if any of the E3/EU+3 believed that Iran was not meeting its commitments under this JCPOA, any of the E3/EU+3 could do the same. The Joint Commission would have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless the time period was extended by consensus. After Joint Commission consideration, any participant could refer the issue to Ministers of Foreign Affairs, if it believed the compliance issue had not been resolved. Ministers would have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless the time period was extended by consensus. After Joint Commission consideration – in parallel with (or in lieu of) review at the Ministerial level – either the complaining participant or the participant whose performance is in question could request that the issue be considered by an Advisory Board, which would consist of three members (one each appointed by the participants in the dispute and a third independent member). The Advisory Board should provide a non-binding opinion on the compliance issue within 15 days. If, after this 30-day process the issue is not resolved, the Joint Commission would consider the opinion of the Advisory Board for no more than 5 days in order to resolve the issue. If the issue still has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining participant, and if the complaining participant deems the issue to constitute significant nonperformance, then that participant could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part and/or notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance.

Upon receipt of the notification from the complaining participant, as described above, including a description of the good-faith efforts the participant made to exhaust the dispute resolution process specified in this JCPOA, the UN Security Council, in accordance with its procedures, shall vote on a resolution to continue the sanctions lifting. If the resolution described above has not been adopted within 30 days of the notification, then the provisions of the old UN Security Council resolutions would be re-imposed, unless the UN Security Council decides otherwise. In such event, these provisions would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions…. Iran has stated that if sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.


  1. Tariq Rauf (History)


    The comprehensive agreement between Iran and six world powers is the most significant multilateral nuclear agreement in two decades – the last such agreement was the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty – said Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy at the IAEA currently Director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Programme at SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute).

    The nuclear deal seals the award of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to US Secretary of State Jon Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, said Rauf.

    The Iran nuclear agreement paves the way for assuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and sanctions relief for the Iranian people, said Rauf.
    The agreement should formally enter into force by the end of 2015 or early 2016, after US Congressional and Iranian Majlis review.

    In the meantime, the IAEA can carry out verification and assessment on the ‘possible military dimensions’ (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear activities and report by the end of this year.

    Iran will implement the IAEA additional protocol and allow ‘managed access’ to certain military locations, such as Parchin, to allay concerns about possible nuclear weaponization activities, and limit is uranium enrichment capacity.

    A side-beneficiary of the Iran nuclear deal is the IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano, who is seeking early endorsement of a third term in office 2017-2021, according to diplomatic sources in Vienna.

    The Iran nuclear deal also will contribute to setting up a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the region of the Middle East.



  2. Peter M. (History)

    It appears to me that the restraints on Iran are notional. It will be up to the IAEA to find any violations and there is a complex procedure to notify and request inspections that may be granted if the Iranians agree. Any idea of snap inspections is absent.

    The chance to develop a history of the program is also a notion, but it will simply be whatever IAEA can discover, but without any support except any good will of the Iranians.

    The capability that Iran will have under the agreement should take them a long way toward preparation for a nuclear weapon program. No restraint on delivery vehicles seems evident.

    Much of the text is unclear (e.g., Iran is permitted many IR-1 centrifuges, but not others). They may however develop new models and repair failed units. How easily inspections will be able to detect the substitution of better units for old seems uncertain, since there doesn’t seem to be a definition of IR-1.

    • Jonah Speaks (History)

      Par. 1: I assume you mean inspections of undeclared, suspected facilities, where Iran has a “legal” opportunity to delay inspections up to 65 days. If Iran did delay the inspections, they would be courting another economic disaster from economic sanctions. Or worse, if they pulled another Parchin (cover with pink tarp, raze suspected building) they would be courting military attack. If Iran values the benefits of the deal and is not trying to cheat, Iran will likely find it beneficial to respond to all inspection requests with alacrity.

      Par. 3: I think we should presume that Iran already knows how to build a bomb, save for more complicated designs that require testing. Both Iran and P5+1 made a deliberate decision to focus on fissile material and ignore missiles and delivery vehicles. Without fissile material, there can be no nuclear bomb.

      I will let others tackle Par. 2 and 4, as well as inadequacies of my response to Par. 1 and 3.

    • Jonah Speaks (History)

      Par. 1: The correct delay time is 24 days, not 65 days. This may be enough time to “clean up” small sites, but inquiring inspectors will be watching. A clean-up job prior to inspection will not breed confidence in Iran’s bona fides.

  3. Tobias Piechowiak (History)

    Didn’t read the contract but what strikes me is there is a lot of talk about Iran’s enrichment program but little about the plutonium route i.e. Arak.
    Will they modify Arak to decrease Pu production? And allow inspections?

    • krepon (History)

      yes and yes

Pin It on Pinterest