Ending a 12-year stand-off, Iran and P5+1 countries comprising of the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), Russia, China, France and Germany on 14 July 2015 reached an agreement on the Iran nuclear programme.
The agreement called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) or Vienna agreement was reached after 17 days of almost uninterrupted negotiations in Vienna involving foreign ministers of seven countries.
Now, the Vienna agreement needs to be ratified by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and will come into force 90 days later.
Main highlights of the Vienna agreement
- Restrictions on defensive arms will be lifted before those on offensive arms, that is, the conventional arms embargo will last another five years, and restrictions on ballistic missile technology will last eight years
- A violation of the deal could lead to the automatic “snap-back” of sanctions within 65 days, if a dispute-resolution process failed.
- 800 Iranian individuals and entities will be delisted from the list of multilateral and international sanctions
- The UN ban on Iranian student’s ability to study nuclear physics will be lifted.
- The IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges will be tested at laboratory level in the first 8 years of the Iran Deal
- Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium will be partly sold on the international market, partly diluted, and partly converted into fuel
- The excess centrifuges will be stored on-site in Natanz
- Iran has not allowed the IAEA to use remote streaming cameras at nuclear facilities
- The economic sanctions against Iran would be lifted immediately after verification of its compliance with the deal
- The deal also provides for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed outside of the EU, like the banking and insurance restrictions on Iran by the EU and the US.
- The draft provides for the lifting of restrictions for the EU to import oil and gas from Iran, as well as exports of oil and gas production equipment to Iran.
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), UN's nuclear watchdog, signed a separate agreement with Iran on the military aspects of its nuclear activities. The separate agreement focuses on the issue of the Parchin military site
- Iran and P5+1 group are to hold ministerial-level meetings at least twice a year to evaluate how the agreement is being implemented
- Iran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent. The enrichment would be conducted only at the Natanz facility, while the Fordo facility would not conduct any enrichment activities or store fissile material
- Iran also agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium. The Arak reactor would not be used to produce plutonium under the deal. The spent fuel would be handled by international mediators
The deal reached after a 12-year standoff is a significant development in the world politics. On the one hand, the deal would give a major psychological boost to Iran and on the other hand, it will lead to greater mutual understanding and cooperation on the many serious security challenges in the Middle East.
The boost to Iran will happen on two fronts. On the one front, the deal is a significant achievement for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani who sought to end the 12-year old stand-off with Western powers. On another, Iran’s economy will get a major boost as trade and investment will begin to flow within Iran as well as externally.
Further, the cooperation on the security challenges in the Middle East will serve as the vital contribution to peace and stability both in the region and beyond. Moreover, it would open the way to a new chapter in international relations and show that diplomacy can overcome decades of tension.
However, the deal was criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who said, “World powers have made far-reaching concessions in all areas that were supposed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability.