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The Iran Nuclear Deal: What's Next?
More than 90 days after the UN Security Council endorsed the Iran nuclear deal, Iran must now begin adopting and implementing the steps outlined in the landmark accord. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) outlines specific steps with two objectives in mind: sharply reducing Iran's current nuclear program and lifting sanctions that have been restricting Iran's economy.
The next big step for Iran is to drastically cut operations at three of its major nuclear facilities. As reported by NPR, Iran must remove some 14,000 centrifuges from Natanz and Fordow, two nuclear fuel enrichment sites. In addition, the Iranian government must dispose of 12,000 kg of uranium, either exporting it to Russia or diluting the supply to its natural state. This will reduce its stockpile of low enriched uranium by some 98 percent. Last, it must remove the core of the nuclear reactor at the Arak site and fill it in with concrete.
Also in the coming months, Iran will formally disclose its past nuclear activities. Its nuclear history and possible military ambitions have never been officially released, but that will change before the end of the year. Iran had to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its nuclear program, the details from which will be published in December. The IAEA has plans for a more rigorous, meticulous inspection program as well. That protocol will account for every gram of nuclear material from start to end, making sure everything stays for permitted energy production and not military use.
Still, there are critics who say the JCPOA leaves room for Iran to secretly develop nuclear weapons. There's also concern that shifts in U.S. politics could potentially compromise the agreement. For instance, Congress could issue more stringent sanctions or a new president could be elected and not adhere to the deal's regulations. For now, though, it's a momentous step forward in Iran's relationship with the West. We will continue to follow the story.
The Statute of the IAEA (iaea.org)
"The Parties hereto establish an International Atomic Energy Agency (hereinafter referred to as "the Agency") upon the terms and conditions hereinafter set forth."
IAEA Safeguards Serving Nuclear Non-Proliferation (iaea.org)
"Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is a complex task. "
Training IAEA weapons inspectors (pri.org)
"When the subway car doors open at the Vienna International Center, crowds of well-dressed commuters rush onto the platform, all hustling in the same direction and at the same brisk pace."