What is left of the 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear?

IRAN (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Iran on Thursday announced a further reduction of its obligations under a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers in Vienna, with uranium enrichment resuming at Fordo’s underground facility.

What is left of this agreement?

– Diplomatic success.

This agreement was concluded on 14 July 2015 in Vienna between the Islamic Republic and the P5 + 1 (China, the United States, France, Britain, Russia and Germany).

Ratified by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 on July 20, 2015, the text closed 12 years of crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.

The preface of the text indicates that Iran “reaffirms that it will never seek, in any case, the development or possession of nuclear weapons.” Iran has agreed to provide guarantees aimed at demonstrating the purely peaceful nature of its program by significantly reducing its activities in this field.

Iran has also agreed to undergo a stricter inspection regime imposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In return, Iran has received the lifting of some of the international sanctions that stifle its economy.

– The American withdrawal.

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of his country from the Vienna agreement concluded by his predecessor Barack Obama.

As of August 2018, Washington has reimposed sanctions it lifted under the deal. The sanctions are being expanded or tightened regularly to force Iran to negotiate a new deal that Washington wants to include “stronger safeguards”.

The reimposition of sanctions deprives Tehran of the economic benefits it had hoped for, and its economy has entered a recession.

Iranian response

On May 8, 2019, Iran announced that it had begun to gradually reduce its commitments in Vienna to force Europeans, Chinese and Russians to honor their promises to help Tehran bypass US sanctions.

The Islamic republic announced that if its demands were not met, it would refrain from abiding by new provisions of the agreement every 60 days. The fourth phase of the “reduction of commitments” plan began on Tuesday.

– The commitments that Iran suspended

Iran no longer respects the limit imposed by the deal on its stockpile of enriched uranium (300 kg). It has also surpassed the ceiling banned from enriching uranium by radioisotopes 235 by more than 3.67%.

Since September, the Islamic Republic has been producing uranium enriched in the central Natanz reactor with centrifuges banned by the deal.

The deal allows a limited number of first-generation centrifuges (IR-1), but Iran is now using more sophisticated machines.

In also disavowing the terms of the research and development agreement, Iran has also begun manufacturing and testing sophisticated centrifuges.

On Thursday, Iran resumed uranium enrichment at the Fordow underground facility, which is forbidden by the deal.

Iran also announced in May that it was no longer bound by the deal’s 1.3 million tonnes of heavy water reserves but did not say it had crossed the threshold.

– Does Iran violate the agreement?

The United States says Iran is violating the deal but Tehran denies it. The Islamic Republic commits its other partners not to make “all possible efforts” (as stipulated in Article 28) to allow full implementation of the Agreement.

Iran says it is acting under clauses 26 and 36, which allow it to suspend its obligations “in whole or in part” if other parties fail to meet their obligations.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that Iran had “decided to get out of the framework.”

– What is left of the agreement?

An important element remains in place: the IAEA inspection regime.

The provisions of the Arak reactor, 240 kilometers southwest of Tehran, which is to be turned into a research reactor unable to produce plutonium for military use, are still being applied.

In addition, the five signatory states are still committed to the deal and intend to save it, although everyone agrees that this will become more difficult.

Finally, Iran is far from returning to the situation that prevailed before the agreement. The uranium enrichment rate was 4.5 percent, still below the 20 percent it once adopted, and far from the 90 percent needed for military use.

The full capacity of Iran’s centrifuge activity remains officially below what it was before the deal was concluded.

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