Dismantling the potential nuclear deal with Iran
Negotiators from the U.S. and five other nations are working late on the clock Monday night, aiming to reach an agreement about Iran’s future nuclear program.
A provisional framework for a deal is due by midnight on Tuesday.
“We are working late into the night and obviously into tomorrow,” Secretary of State John Kerry said to The New York Times Monday. “Everyone knows the meaning of tomorrow.”
The potential deal has sparked an international debate about the threat of a nuclear Iran and the legitimacy of an agreement – if one is reached at all – and its global impact.
Negotiations center on Iran’s capability to refine uranium, which is critical to constructing an atomic bomb.
Tehran maintains the nuclear program is solely for generating electricity, not weaponization. But Western governments are skeptical, remembering Iran’s continued efforts to conceal the locations of its centrifuges, funding of terrorism and promotion of anti-American policies.
Diplomats remain uncertain about reaching an agreement as tensions rise domestically and abroad.
After 46 Republican senators penned a letter rejecting a deal and sent it to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Obama administration feared it would lose its mediatory clout. Khameni chanted “Death to America” with a crowd last week, denouncing U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy.
Controversy continued after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the midst of a reelection campaign, rejected the notion of a deal. This strengthened his alliance with GOP leaders, while distancing himself from the Obama Administration.
Israel is a key component of any potential deal and Iran has repeatedly threatened to destroy the nation.
In response, President Obama threatened to veto any efforts by the U.S. Senate to levy further sanctions against Iran. The president is adamant that a deal must be reached with Iran – and quickly.
There are few public details about the framework. Here is what we know:
- Iran is demanding immediate sanction relief in exchange for agreeing not to pursue acquisition of fissile uranium.
- The U.S. wants Iran to disable 4,000 of its 10,000 working centrifuges; there are around 18,000 centrifuges in Iran.
- As part of an earlier stage of negotiations, enrichment levels of Iran’s uranium have currently been capped at 5 percent or lower. Material must be at 90 percent to make a bomb.
- Extending the time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear bomb, the US wants Iran at least one year from obtaining a bomb at all times.
- Shipping uranium stocks to Russia where they cannot be weaponized — Iran’s deputy foreign minister backed out of this part of the deal on Monday.
- The U.S. also wants disclosure of secret enrichment facilities, which diplomats fear could be operating without the International Atomic Energy Agency’s knowledge.
- Another part of the deal is full access to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities and verify that no weapons-grade material is being produced.
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