A deal has been reached in Switzerland with Iran over its nuclear program. The agreement will allow for the lifting of some of the draconian sanctions that were imposed over the Western fears of the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
After marathon talks that finally ended early Sunday morning, the United States and five other world powers reached an agreement with Iran to halt much of Iran’s nuclear program. It was the first time in nearly a decade, American officials said, that steps had been taken to stop much of Iran’s nuclear effort and even roll some elements back.
The freeze would last six months, with the aim of giving international negotiators time to pursue the far more challenging task of drafting a comprehensive accord that would ratchet back much of Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it could be used only for peaceful purposes.
According to the accord, Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. To make good on that pledge, Iran would dismantle the links between networks of centrifuges.
All of Iran’s stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.
No new centrifuges, neither old models nor newer more efficient ones, could be installed. Centrifuges that have been installed but which are not currently operating – Iran has more than 8,000 such centrifuges – could not be started up. No new enrichment facilities could be established.
The agreement, however, would not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level of 3.5 percent or dismantle any of its existing centrifuges.
Iran’s stockpile of such low-enriched uranium would be allowed to temporarily increase to about eight tons from seven tons currently. But Tehran would be required to shrink this stockpile by the end of the six-month agreement back to seven tons. This would be done by installing equipment to covert some of that stockpile to oxide.
To guard against cheating, international monitors would be allowed to visit the Natanz enrichment facility and the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo on a daily basis to check the film from cameras installed there.
In return for the initial agreement, the United States has agreed to provide $6 billion to $7 billion in sanctions relief, American officials said. This limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.