Key Issues in Dispute on Nuke Deal

April 15, 2015
Conflicting interpretations crystallized over terms in the proposed nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers within days of the April 2 announcement. Washington and Tehran seem to have differing views on sanctions relief, advanced centrifuges, and international inspections. With talks set to resume April 21, negotiators from the seven nations face three months of potentially tough talks to work out their differences.
Divergent views became apparent after Iranian officials began criticizing details in the four-page factsheet released by the White House after the negotiations. In response, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has prepared its own fact sheet. But the foreign ministry has yet to publish it. The following are excerpted remarks from officials that illustrate the disputes on key issues.


Sanctions relief is the most contentious issue between Washington and Tehran. Iranian officials are calling for immediate and permanent sanctions relief. But U.S. officials claim that sanctions relief will be gradual, and that sanctions can be “snapped back into place” if Iran violates the terms of the agreement.


“On the basis of this framework, all sanctions in financial, economic and banking sectors as well as all (UN Security Council) sanctions resolutions against Iran will be canceled on the very first day of the implementation of the deal, and new cooperation in both nuclear and other sectors will start with the world on the same day.”
—President Hassan Rouhani, in a speech on April 3
“All Security Council resolutions will be terminated. All U.S. nuclear-related secondary sanctions as well as E.U. sanctions will be terminated…the effect of which will be, when we implement our measures, there won't be no sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, April 2, in a statement

United States

“In return for Iran’s future cooperation, we and our international partners will provide relief in phases from the sanctions that have impacted Iran’s economy.  And if we find at any point that Iran is not complying with this agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place.”
“The question of the sanctions…remains one of the issues of the timing – the exact timing and the exact process associated with it remains one of those issues that is going to be negotiated over the course of the next three months.  The commitment is to lift the economic and financial sanctions on the occasion of what I mentioned earlier on the nuclear side.  Beyond that, UN sanctions, others with respect to ballistic missile embargo, et cetera, those remain for negotiation.”
— Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement on April 2
“In return for Iran’s actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions -- our own sanctions, and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.  This relief will be phased as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal.  If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.  Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.”
— President Barack Obama, in a statement on April 2

Advanced Centrifuges

Washington and Tehran also disagree on the type of centrifuges Iran is allowed to use to enrich uranium. Zarif and Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi reportedly told the Iranian parliament that Iran would begin operating IR-8 centrifuges, an advanced model that enriches uranium at a faster rate. The United States, however, has indicated that Iran will not be permitted to use advanced centrifuges for at least ten years.


"The AEOI chief and the foreign minister presented hopeful remarks about nuclear technology R&D which, they said, have been agreed upon during the talks (with the six world powers), and informed that gas will be injected into IR8 (centrifuge machines) with the start of the (implementation of the) agreement."
—Javad Karimi Qoddousi, member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, following a closed-door session with Zarif and Ali Akbar Salehi
"The negotiators should include use of the 8th generation of centrifuges (IR-8) in the final agreement."
—Head of parliament's nuclear committee Ebrahim Karkhaneyee, in the press on April 8

United States

"Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least the next 10 years."
— President Barack Obama, in a statement on April 2

“Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. 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.”
— White House fact sheet, released April 2


Iran opposes any international inspections that would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to its military facilities. “Foreign monitoring on Iran’s security isn’t allowed,” said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. U.S. officials have not explicitly stated that inspections would include military facilities, but President Obama claimed inspectors would have "unprecedented access" to nuclear sites and any part of the "supply chain" that supports Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. factsheet emphasizes that inspectors will be able to investigate any "suspicious sites" of alleged covert enrichment activities and investigate possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program.



"Iran's military sites cannot be inspected under the excuse of nuclear supervision."
—Khamenei, in a speech on April 9
“Visiting military centers is among our redlines and no such visit will be accepted.”
Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan, in the press on April 9
United States
“Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.”
— White House fact sheet, released April 2
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president has said these will be the most intrusive inspections, robust inspections ever. Others have said it’ll be anywhere, anytime. The Iranians are saying no, it won’t be on military bases and there are going to be limits. Which is it?
JOHN KERRY: We’re going to have a very robust inspection system. We have a means-of-dispute resolution that will permit us to be able to resolve questions if there are any unresolved issues of access. They have agreed to abide by what is called the additional protocol of the nonproliferation treaty. That protocol requires participating states to adhere to a higher standard and if they don’t, Judy, then the sanctions can, and will, come back. For a certain number of years that will happen automatically, but I can assure you that if Iran were then to suddenly move to try to advance this program beyond what would be normal for a peaceful nuclear power, the whole world will respond just as we have now and sanctions would be re-imposed.

— Secretary of State John Kerry, in a PBS interview on April 8

“We have agreed that Iran will face regular and comprehensive inspections, which is the best possible way to detect any attempt to covertly produce a weapon.  Not only will inspectors have regular access to all of Iran’s declared facilities indefinitely, but they will also be able to monitor the facilities that produce the centrifuges themselves and the uranium that supports the nuclear program.  And they will be able to do that for at least 20 years.”
— Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement on April 2
“International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program -- from uranium mills that provide the raw materials, to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.  If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.  Iran’s past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed.  With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.”
— President Barack Obama, in a statement on April 2