The United States and other world powers reached an outline for a nuclear deal with Iran on Thursday that would lift international sanctions on the country in exchange for new limitations on its nuclear program.
President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way Biden should pivot to a pro-growth strategy on immigration reform One year on, a critical role needs to be filled by the administration MORE described it from the White House Rose Garden as a “historic” agreement that would leave the United States and its allies safe by preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been in Lausanne, Switzerland, leading a U.S. team of negotiators, cast the agreement as a “solid foundation for the good deal we are seeking” by the final June 30 deadline.
Any deal is expected to be closely scrutinized by Congress, which is debating whether to impose new sanctions on Iran — something the administration warns would kill the talks.
While many details of a potential deal remain unclear, here’s a look at what emerged in the framework agreement on Thursday.
Limited breakout time for a nuclear bomb
The breakout time for Iran to obtain enough nuclear material for a weapon would be extended under the agreement from the current assessment of two to three months to at least 1 year for the next decade.
The Obama administration has touted these commitments as a major achievement and one that would not have been secured without diplomacy.
Among the agreement's other stipulations, Iran would be barred from enriching uranium above 3.67 percent for at least 15 years, allowing it to develop nuclear energy but not reach the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon.
During that time, Iran would also have to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium from 10,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms.
Production at three crucial Iranian facilities
Under the framework, Iran would scale down its number of installed centrifuges by about two-thirds, from around 19,000 to 6,104. A majority of those, around 5,000, would be housed at the country's Natanz facility, where Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium for 10 years with less-advanced centrifuges.
“Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1,” the framework reads. The P5+1 group includes the U.S., China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom, plus Germany.
Iran would also be barred from building any new heavy water reactors or uranium enrichment facilities for 15 years.
Iran’s Fordow facility, the previously undisclosed underground site, would be converted into a “nuclear, physics, technology and research center” and be barred from producing enriched uranium or housing any nuclear material that could produce a bomb for at least 15 years. However, a third of its centrifuges and infrastructure would stay.
Iran's heavy water reactor in Arak, with a core that could be used to produce large amounts of weapons-grade plutonium, would be redesigned and rebuilt for nuclear research. Its used nuclear fuel would be exported indefinitely and its excess heavy water sold on the international market for 15 years.
All of Iran's nuclear facilities, including Natanz and Fordow, would be placed under international monitoring through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as part of the agreement.
“This deal is not based on trust. It's based on unprecedented verification,” Obama said.
Inspectors would have access to the supply chain for Iran's nuclear program, and its uranium mines and mills for 25 years, and would have continuous surveillance of its centrifuge parts and storage facilities for two decades. The country's primary centrifuge base would be “frozen” and under constant surveillance.
IAEA inspectors would also be allowed to investigate “suspicious sites” or claims of any potentially hidden enrichment facilities, and a system of early notification for new facilities would be implemented.
Kerry echoed Obama, saying “a final agreement will not rely on promises; it will rely on proof.”
In return for Iran abiding by terms over its facilities as verified by international inspectors, the United States and the European Union would suspend nuclear-related sanctions, something touted by Iranian officials.
All past United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iran's nuclear program would be lifted if Iran acts on “all key concerns” relating to uranium enrichment, as well as transparency and facilities inspection. A new U.N. resolution would re-establish a core provision on Iran's ability to transfer sensitive technology.
“None of those measures include closing our facilities. The proud people of Iran would never accept that. Our facilities will continue. We will continue enriching. We will continue research and development. Our heavy water reactor will be modernized, and we will continue the Fordow facility,” Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
If Iran or any of the six world powers that are part of the agreement think another's efforts to uphold the agreement are unsatisfactory, all previous U.N. sanctions will be reimposed, according to the framework.
“If Iran violates the deal, the sanctions can be snapped back into place,” Obama argued Thursday.
The agreement would leave in place U.S. sanctions on Iran related to terrorism, ballistic missiles and human rights abuses.
The Obama administration's deal faces a tough couple of months.
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran. If Congress approves such a measure, the White House has warned, it could kill the international talks.
“If Congress kills this deal ... then, it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy," Obama said.
While parameters of the agreement will be implemented in phases, Kerry stressed Thursday that “there will be no sunset to the deal that we are working to finalize” and that "certain provisions, including many transparency measures, will be in place indefinitely into the future. They will never expire.”
On the international level, European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said that negotiators will now utilize the framework to craft a final deal.
“We will now work to write the text of a joint technical plan of action” in coming weeks and months, Mogherini said. “We are committed to complete our efforts by June 30.”