The Debate

Iran and P5+1 Agree On Implementing Interim Nuclear Deal

Recent Features

The Debate

Iran and P5+1 Agree On Implementing Interim Nuclear Deal

Iran and the P5+1 agreed to begin implementing the interim nuclear deal on January 20, 2014.

Iran and P5+1 Agree On Implementing Interim Nuclear Deal
Credit: European Commission

In late-November 2013, Iran and the so-called P5+1 (United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany) agreed on a historic interim deal over Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian negotiation team, lead by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, agreed to major concessions, effectively rendering the deal a success for the P5+1 and allowing Iran some reprieve from biting international sanctions. Over the weekend, Iran and the P5+1 announced that they had reached a deal that would actually implement the terms of the agreement. The implementation of deal will test whether negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran can continue in good faith and lead to a permanent agreement on the status of Iran’s nuclear program. The deal will come into force on January 20, 2013.

According to The Washington Post, “the weeks of bargaining to put the November agreement in force were more difficult than anticipated, with one brief walkout by Iranian envoys and rancor among the bloc of nations that negotiated the deal.” A key disagreement arose between Russia and China–important strategic partners for Iran–and the United States over certain technical concessions regarding Iran’s ability to continue enriching uranium domestically. Iran insisted that its “right to enrich” be preserved in the interim deal and managed to win that over in November, despite much domestic criticism in the United States.

Over the course of the interim deal, which lasts 6 months, the P5+1 and Iran will continue negotiations on the terms of a permanent deal. President Obama welcomed the implementation of the interim deal, but caveated that a permanent deal would require negotiations and bargaining that may not be easy. He added that the deal “will advance our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” The implementation of the deal comes against a continued campaign in the U.S. Congress to levy harsh sanctions against Iran–a move that the Obama administration is keen to avoid as it would severely undermine the United States’ credibility and derail the current momentum of historic progress between the United States and Iran.

The fragile detente that seems to be emerging between the United States and Iran, if sustained, could fundamentally change the geopolitical dynamics of South-Central Asia and the Middle East. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted following the implementation deal, “the nuclear negotiations have all but exhausted both sides’ time, keeping them from being able to work on other shared global interests, including the civil war in Syria.”

The implementation of the deal links the release of frozen oil revenue to Iran’s progress on diluting its stockpile of 20 percent enrich uranium, as regulated by the IAEA. Iran will not get the entire sanctions relief promised by the deal immediately. According to one U.S. official, “Access to a portion of these funds will be linked to Iran’s progress in completing the dilution process for 20 percent enriched uranium.”

The following is excerpted from The Diplomat‘s original report on the terms of Iran deal signed in November 2013, describing what each side concedes as part of the deal.

Iran has agreed to:

  1. Stop enriching uranium to 20 percent levels, dilute half of its current 20 percent stockpile to below 5 percent, and convert the other half of the stockpile to oxide for fuel fabrication at the Tehran Research Reactor. The text also says “no reconversion line,” which appears to imply that Iran has agreed not to reconvert the 20 percent oxide back into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) where it could be further enriched to weapons grade levels.
  2. Not increase its stockpile of low enriched uranium (LEU).
  3. Not install any new centrifuges at either of its enrichment facilities, start feeding UF6 into centrifuges that are currently installed but not being operated, or increase its stockpile of non-installed centrifuges.
  4. Halt construction on the Arak Heavy Water Reactor and not engage in reprocessing or construction of a reprocessing facility.
  5. Allow IAEA inspectors daily access to its enrichment facilities, up from the current weekly visits they enjoy. Additionally, IAEA inspectors will be allowed to inspect parts of the enrichment program that they have not had access to before.
  6. Submit to the IAEA an updated Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) for the Arak heavy water reactor. Work with the IAEA to complete a safeguard agreement for the site.
  7. Work with the P5+1 and the IAEA to clear up any past and present concerns regarding its nuclear program. This most notably implies working out conditions for the IAEA to inspect the Parchin military complex that the agency hasn’t been allowed to visit since it toured facilities there twice in 2005.

In return, over the next six months the P5+1 has agreed to:

  1. Unfreeze what the White House later clarified was US$4.2 billion in Iran’s frozen funds in oversea bank accounts. In other words, Iran will be given access to some of its own money. This will occur on a rolling basis over the the next six months as Iran complies with its end of the bargain. The funds will begin being released to Iran starting next month, France announced on Monday.
  2. Suspend EU and U.S. sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical, gold, and precious metal exports. The White House estimates this will provide Iran with US$1.5 billion over the next six months.
  3. Suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s auto industry and agree to sell it spare parts for its Boeing civilian aircraft, which hopefully will reduce the unacceptable number of civilian plane crashes Iran experiences due to faulty and outdated equipment.
  4. Allow Iran to continue selling oil at current levels, and not sanction shipping companies for carrying these legitimate oil shipments.
  5. Not impose any new UN Security Council or EU nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. Additionally, the Obama administration will, to the extent that it is “consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress,” refrain from imposing new U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.
  6. Set up a financial channel to better facilitate Iran’s purchase of humanitarian goods, many of which are not sanctioned and may even be explicitly exempt from sanctions but which have nonetheless been denied to Iran by international banks concerned about violating sanctions.