After nearly two years of heated debate, world leaders led by the US and Iran have reached an agreement that will significantly limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting international nuclear-related sanctions.
In a speech, President Obama said the deal “is not built on trust, it is built on verification” – an important distinction for those who are wary of making deals with Iran, reports The Associated Press.
The final text of the deal has not been officially released yet. Representatives from the US, Iran, and other nations are completing their final meetings after an 18-day negotiation marathon held in Vienna, Austria, reports CNN. But details of the agreement are now widely available.
Here are five things you should know about the Iran nuclear deal:
Iran will reduce its nuclear program. The country has long insisted that its nuclear program is for for energy purposes only. The new deal will ensure that Iran uses it for exactly that. According to the Associated Press, "the accord will keep Iran from producing enough material for an atomic weapon for at least 10 years." This includes reducing by roughly two-thirds its number of centrifuges and cutting down its current stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98 percent, reported The New York Times. However, American officials acknowledge that the "breakout time" (time it would take Iran to make enough material for a bomb) would begin to shrink after the first decade.
Economic sanctions on Iran will be lifted in phases. International sanctions on Iran have crippled its economy and its current president, Hassan Rouhani, was elected in 2013 on a platform of trying to lift sanctions. Under the agreement, experts must verify Iran is sticking to its commitments before US and European nuclear-related sanctions are lifted. Measures put in place by the UN were designed to “block the transfer of weapons, components, technology, and dual-use items to Iran’s prohibited nuclear and missile programs” and “to target select sectors of the Iranian economy relevant to its proliferation activities,” according to the US Department of State website.
The United Nations will maintain its arms embargo on Iran, for now. According to the Associated Press, Iran has agreed to the continuation of a UN arms embargo for up to five more years, but it could end earlier if the IAEA finds irrefutable evidence that Iran is not engaging in any work on nuclear weapons.
Not everyone is celebrating the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the deal as a “mistake of historic proportions.” And as The Washington Post reported, he said “Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons. Many of the restrictions that were supposed to prevent it from getting there will be lifted.”
There’s a possibility Congress will say ‘no.’ Support for the deal on Capitol Hill is mixed, with some concerned about ending the arms embargo. But President Obama has warned Congress that it would be irresponsible to block the accord. “No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East," Obama said Tuesday, as the Associated Press reported.