President Obama released the details of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) today in a statement from the White House. He began by quoting former President John F. Kennedy during the Cold War, at a time when negotiations were required to prevent nuclear annihilation.
"Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."
Fifty years later, this quote still holds true, yet our fear has transformed into a fear that nuclear weapons will spread to more and more countries.
President Obama went on to describe how this agreement has stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. In summary, with this agreement all four pathways to the bomb will be blocked.
Here are some of the details:
The time it would take for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon will increase from the current estimate of 2-3 months to at least one year.
Iran will be unable to produce weapons-grade uranium or plutonium.
Iran will remove 2/3 of its centrifuges, and it won’t use advanced centrifuges to produce enriched uranium for the next decade.
Iran's uranium enrichment will be capped at 3.67% for 15 years. The minimum amount of enrichment needed to build a basic nuclear weapon is 20% - for more advanced nuclear weapons 90% or more is needed.
Uranium research and development will be limited to the Natanz facility for 15 years. No enrichment will take place at the Fordow facility.
Iran will get rid of 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium. This stockpile limitation will last 15 years.
Iran will modify the core reactor of Arak so that it can’t produce weapons-grade plutonium. No new hard-water reactors are allowed to be built.
Iran has agreed to ship spent fuel from the Arak reactor out of the country for the lifetime of the reactor – at least 15 years.
The embargo against the sale of conventional weapons to Iran will remain in place for 5 years and the embargo against the sale of ballistic missiles to Iran will remain in place for 8 years.
IAEA inspectors will have 24/7 access for inspections of Iran's key nuclear facilities. Inspectors will be able to access any suspicious locations and will have access where necessary, when necessary. Some inspections will be in place for 25 years.
IAEA will have access to Iran's entire nuclear supply chain – uranium mines and mills, conversion facilities, centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities, ensuring Iran isn't able to divert materials from known facilities to covert ones. This arrangement is permanent.
IAEA has been given access to complete the investigation into "Past Military Dimensions of Iran's nuclear research."
Iran is prohibited from pursuing a nuclear weapon under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The agreement has no "sunset" clause.
In exchange for completing key new steps, Iran will receive phased sanctions relief from the United States and the United Nations.
If Iran violates the agreement, United Nations sanctions will automatically snap back for a decade with the possibility of re-imposing sanctions for another 5 years, if necessary.
If Iran violates any aspect of the agreement, U.S. and European Union sanctions snap back into place.
This is clearly a major victory for diplomacy, however the battle is not yet entirely won. The U.S. Congress now has 60 days to review the agreement and decide whether to approve or disapprove of it. Millions of dollars have been spent in negative ad campaigns pressuring legislators to disapprove of a deal that they haven’t even seen yet, which is why we need your help. Please contact your representative and tell them to support diplomacy with Iran. Without an agreement in place, this could result in yet another crisis in the Middle East, or even new nuclear-armed states in the region. Tell your representative that diplomacy is the best option.
Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.