[JURIST] Iran on Thursday agreed in principle to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) [press release], creating significant restrictions on its nuclear program for at least a decade in return for a reduction of international economic sanctions. Just three days after the self-imposed deadline [JURIST report] for a preliminary deal, Iran agreed to an outline deal between the US and five other major world powers that will limit Iran’s ability to undertake nuclear operations that could lead to nuclear weaponry, in return for a gradual lifting of the economic sanctions against Iran that have plagued the nation for years. The current agreement is not a final deal, but according to [press release] Secretary of State John Kerry [official website], it creates a “solid foundation for the good deal [the nations] are seeking.” If struck, the deal would limit Iran to the three nuclear facilities it currently runs, only one of which that would enrich uranium. The deal would also require a one-year “breakout period,” allowing Iran a full year to build up the material needed for one nuclear warhead. Currently, estimates indicate that Iran could build up enough material in two to three months. Iran’s benefits would include the gradual suspension of international sanctions that have stifled the nation’s economy for years.
Over the past several years Iran has been subject to numerous sanctions for its contentious nuclear program, although some doubt the efficacy of such sanctions [JURIST op-ed]. The US and France agreed [JURIST report] in March to strengthen nuclear talks with Iran to persuade the nation to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions. In February, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency condemned [JURIST report] Iran for violating its duties under the Joint Plan of Action, a negotiation between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia, whereby Iran has agreed to expand its nuclear program peacefully. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced in December that Iran and the six world powers were set to resume [JURIST report] low-level talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva in January. Iranian leaders have repeatedly claimed [JURIST report] that the developing nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the international community, Israel in particular, worries that Iran’s enrichment program was designed for military purposes.