United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

UN Report: Iran Complying with Interim Deal

Iran has continued to meet its obligations under the interim nuclear deal, according to a new report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Tehran has placed more than four tons of its low enriched uranium (LEU) into a pipeline that converts it into dioxide, which would require significantly more processing to become fuel for a potential nuclear weapon.

The Institute for Science and International Security, however, noted that the report indicates that only 9 percent of Iran’s newly produced LEU has actually been converted into dioxide. The remaining LEU is in intermediary forms. “When it became clear that Iran could not meet its commitment to convert the LEU into uranium dioxide, the United States revised its criteria for Iran meeting its obligations," the institute claimed in a press release.
But a U.S. official told the Associated Press that the remaining stockpile had been transformed into another oxide that would be even more difficult to reconvert into uranium that could be further enriched to fuel a nuclear weapon. The official reportedly said that technical problems prevented Iran from completing the process exactly as described in the interim nuclear deal, but that the United States was satisfied. “Iran had two requirements under the (interim deal): to end the time period with the same amount of UF6 (enriched uranium) they began it with, and to convert any excess UF6 produced into an oxide form. They've done both,” a senior U.S. official told Reuters.
R. Scott Kemp, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former science advisor to the State Department on Iran’s nuclear program, also said Iran fully complied with the interim deal.
The following are the main points from the IAEA report.
The Agency confirms that since 20 January 2014, Iran has:
i. not enriched uranium above 5% U-235 at any of its declared facilities;
ii. not operated cascades in an interconnected configuration at any of its declared facilities;
iii. diluted – down to an enrichment level of no more than 5% U-235 – 108.4 kg of UF6
enriched up to 20% U-235;5
iv. fed 100 kg of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 into the conversion process at the Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP) for conversion into uranium oxide;
v. had no process line to reconvert uranium oxides back into UF6 at FPFP;
vi. not made “any further advances” to its activities at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP), the
Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) or the Arak reactor (IR-40 Reactor), including the
manufacture and testing of fuel for the IR-40 Reactor;
vii. provided an updated Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) for the IR-40 Reactor and concluded with the Agency a safeguards approach for the reactor (based on the updated DIQ and the safeguards measures agreed on 5 May 2014);
viii. fed 4304 kg of UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235 into the conversion process at the Enriched UO2 Powder Plant (EUPP) for conversion into uranium oxide;
ix. continued its safeguarded enrichment R&D practices at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP), without accumulating enriched uranium;
x. not carried out reprocessing related activities at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and the Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production (MIX) Facility or at any of the other facilities to which the Agency has access;
xi. provided information and managed access to the uranium mine and mill at Gchine, to the Saghand Uranium Mine and the Ardakan Uranium Production Plant;
xii. continued to provide daily access to the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow;
xiii. provided regular managed access to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor
production workshops and storage facilities, and provided information thereon; and
xiv. provided, in relation to enhanced monitoring, the following:
• plans for nuclear facilities and a description of each building on each nuclear site;
• descriptions of the scale of operations being conducted for each location engaged
in specified nuclear activities; and
• information on uranium mines and mills, and on source material.
Click here for the full report.  
Tags: Reports

Rouhani and Obama on Deadline Day

On the day originally designated as the deadline for a nuclear deal, President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both issued warnings about their red lines. Obama said he was willing to walk away from talks, after nearly two years of negotiations, if he was not satisfied with terms to verify Iran is not working on a bomb. Rouhani warned that Tehran was prepared to resume its nuclear program in the absence of a deal with the so-called P5+1 countries — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. “If the other side breaches the deal, we will go back to the old path, stronger than what they can imagine,” he said in Tehran, according to state media. The following are excerpted remarks by the two presidents.
President Barack Obama
Question: Sir, you're on the cusp of entering into a nuclear agreement with Iran, but there’s still a number of unresolved issues with Iran.  In particular, the fates of Americans like Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, Robert Levinson.  You and your administration say you're continuing to raise the imprisonment and disappearance of these individuals, these Americans.  But still, you will sign -- likely -- an agreement with Tehran and those issues will remain unresolved.  What do you say to them, to the families, about how you will deal with their loved ones?  And I guess the bottom line is, do you find the Iranian leadership trustworthy?
Obama: With respect to U.S. citizens, U.S. persons who are held in Iran, this is something that we continue to push hard on irrespective of the nuclear deal.  It's a top priority for us to make sure that our people are treated fairly.  And on the face of it, in the case of these individuals who’ve been held, they have not been and they are not being afforded the basic due process and legal rights that we afford visitors to our country.
So we're deeply concerned about it.  We spend a lot of time pushing on it, and we will continue to do so.  And there’s no lessening of the sense of urgency.  So when I talk to the families, we remind them of the fact that that is a mission that will continue and has been worked on consistently throughout their captivity.
With respect to the larger issue of whether I trust the Iranian regime, as I've said before, there are deep-seated disagreements and divisions between the United States and Iran, and those aren't going to go away overnight.  The goal of the nuclear negotiations is not to rely on trust, but to set up a verifiable mechanism where we are cutting off the pathways for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
And John Kerry, right now, is there, along with Secretary of Energy Moniz, who’s one of the top nuclear physicists in the world.  They are deeply engaged in negotiations.  My hope is that they can achieve an agreement, but my instructions to them have been extremely clear:  The framework agreement that was established at Lausanne is one that, if implemented effectively and codified properly, would, in fact, achieve my goal, which is Iran not obtaining a nuclear weapon. 
There has been a lot of talk on the other side from the Iranian negotiators about whether, in fact, they can abide by some of the terms that came up in Lausanne.  If they cannot, that’s going to be a problem -- because I’ve said from the start I will walk away from the negotiations if, in fact, it’s a bad deal.  If we can’t provide assurances that the pathways for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon are closed, and if we can’t verify that, if the inspections regime -- the verification regime is inadequate, then we’re not going to get a deal.  And we’ve been very clear to the Iranian government about that.
And the good news is, is that our P5+1 partners in these negotiations feel exactly the same way.  So there are still some hard negotiations to take place, but ultimately this is going to be up to the Iranians to determine whether or not they meet the requirements that the international community has set forth to be able to fairly and accurately and consistently assess whether or not they have foreclosed the possibility of obtaining a nuclear weapon.  And given past behavior on the part of Iran, that can’t simply be a declaration by Iran and a few inspectors wandering around every once in a while; that’s going to have to be a serious, rigorous verification mechanism.  And that, I think, is going to be the test as to whether we get a deal or not.
—June 30, 2015 in a press conference with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
President Hassan Rouhani
“If the other side breaches the deal, we will go back to the old path, stronger than what they can imagine.”
—June 30, 2015 according to IRNA via Reuters


Diplomacy in Tweets & Pictures

Foreign ministers from Iran and the world's six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States resumed talks in Vienna on June 28 with only days remaining before the deadline for a final nuclear deal. The following are pictures and tweets from the final round of talks.
























Photo credit: Kerry and Lavrov, Moniz by U.S. Dept of State via Flickr Commons, U.S. Government work

Diary of Iran Talks

On June 28, Secretary of State John Kerry began a final round of nuclear talks in Vienna with foreign ministers from Iran and the world's six major powers. The following is a rundown of the negotiations as officials pushed towards a final deal.

June 28
  • Secretary of State John Kerry held a series of meetings in Vienna with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany.
  • Kerry was accompanied by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, and several other high-ranking officials. 
  • Zarif told reporters, "We have come to Vienna to reach an agreement which fully respects the Iranian nation's interests and rights and will be a good agreement for the entire world.” Zarif returned to Tehran at the end of the day, reportedly to consult with other officials about the talks.
  • Mogherini noted that “the political will is there. I've seen it from all sides. So we have tasked our negotiating teams to start working immediately tonight on the text [of the final deal].” Mogherini also hinted at a short extension past the June 30 deadline. “If we need to have a couple of additional days more, it's not the end of the world,” she said. “But it is very clear that the deadline is going to stay end of June / beginning of July.” She also emphasized that “We don't have new points open on the agenda. We are not renegotiating things.”
June 29
  • Talks continued at the ministerial level in Vienna.
  • Kerry also met with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Yukiya Amano.
  • White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “If the Iranians refuse to agree to a final agreement that is consistent with the framework that was reached in April, then there won’t be an agreement.” An unnamed U.S. official made a similar comment, warning “this path forward has to be based on the Lausanne parameters. Period.”
  • In Tehran, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi said, "We have repeatedly said that Iran's peaceful nuclear program is for technological purposes.” He added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has set its own boundaries for nuclear talks, which lets no opportunity cross the redlines.” Salehi, who had been recovering from surgery, joined negotiators in Vienna the next day.
June 30
  • Zarif returned to Vienna, accompanied by Salehi and Hossein Fereydoun, President Hassan Rouhani’s brother. Upon his arrival, Zarif said the talks were at a “critical stage” but that negotiations were “making progress.”
  • State Department spokesperson Marie Harf announced that the terms of the interim agreement would be extended so the talks could continue past the deadline. "The P5+1 and Iran have decided to extend the measures under the Joint Plan of Action until July 7 to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution…on the Iran nuclear issue,” she said.
  • The U.S. Treasury issued guidance on extending limited sanctions relief until the new deadline.
  • Salehi and Moniz met to discuss the technical aspects of a deal.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Vienna. Lavrov met separately with Zarif, Kerry, and Steinmeier.
  • Zarif met with Amano.



July 1

  • Kerry and Zarif met one-on-one, joined later by Salehi, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi, Moniz, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, and E.U. deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid.
  • The IAEA released a report confirming that Iran has complied with its key commitments under the interim nuclear deal.

  • “We have some very difficult issues,” Kerry said. “But we believe we’re making progress and we’re going to continue to work because of that.”

July 2

  • French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond arrived in Vienna.
  • Kerry held separate meetings with Zarif, Mogherini, Wang Yi, and Hammond.
  • Zarif met separately with Hammond, Steinmeier, and Wang Yi.
  • In Tehran, Amano met with President Hassan Rouhani and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.
  • Salehi and Moniz held another round of talks.
  • Iranian deputy foreign ministers Araghchi and Ravanchi met with their U.S. and E.U. counterparts, Sherman and Schmid.
  • Ravanchi announced that the foreign ministers would leave Vienna at the end of the day.
  • “I don’t think we are at any kind of breakthrough yet,” Hammond cautioned. “The work goes on. You’re going to see over the next few days ministers coming and ministers going to maintain the momentum of these discussions.”
  • Zarif said, “The negotiations are moving forward and we should be hopeful.”


Photo credits: U.S. negotiating team, Kerry and Amano, Kerry and reporters by U.S. Dept of State via Flickr Commons, U.S. Government work


The War that Haunts Iran’s Negotiators

Robin Wright

The historic nuclear diplomacy taking place in Vienna’s elegant Coburg Palace has roots in a gritty war between Iran and Iraq that ended more than a quarter of a century ago. Iran suffered more than a hundred and fifty thousand dead between 1980 and 1988. In Tehran, it’s called the Sacred Defense. In the final stages, U.S. aid to Iraq contributed to Iran’s decision to pursue nuclear capability—the very program that six world powers are now negotiating to contain.
Click here for the full article in The New Yorker.


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