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Understanding the Iran Nuclear Deal Before it Becomes History

Understanding the Iran Nuclear Deal Before it Becomes History
Reading Time: 5 minutes

By: Lisa M. Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.

The Iran Nuclear Deal is on the chopping block at the hands of Donald Trump acting in opposition of the majority of the international community. The landscape of the Middle East is about to shift in very significant ways and when the Middle East shifts the whole world feels it.

This may be the most significant shift in foreign policy since Trump took office. Now more than ever, understanding the deal, it’s history, and its impacts might be useful. This landmark agreement was complicated, substantive, and it’s about to be gone.

Where it all started: (Yes, it started with a scary rumor)
In 2002 a group of Iranian exiles raised concerns that Iran might have nuclear facilities. Despite inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other reports that supported those claims, Iran continued to proceed with nuclear developments despite massive international opposition. In 2006, the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran, which were followed by similar actions from the USA and the EU.

The sanctions were primarily focused on Iran’s oil exports. However, it also impacted weapons sales and financial transactions. These sanctions were resulted in a massive blow to the Iranian economy and had significant impacts on the world oil markets.

The Players: (In case you’re wondering, Russia was also a key player)
The deal was negotiated between Iran and a group of other countries including US, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, China, and the EU. Although it garnered some international criticism, at the time it was considered a landmark agreement.

The supporters of the nuclear deal believed the agreement was the best shot at preventing Iran from continuing their program which might result in producing a nuclear arsenal. It was intended to anchor the process of establishing peace in the Middle East region. The majority of the international community agreed the deal was pivotal for regional stability. The majority of the international community still supports the deal.

The Nuts and Bolts Of The Iran Nuclear Deal: (The devil is in the details of the science)
To make nuclear bombs, the uranium ore mined from earth needs enrichment to either Uranium-235 or Plutonium. Uranium ore mined from earth is processed via devices called centrifuges to create Uranium-235. Uranium ore is processed in the nuclear reactors which transform it into Plutonium.

Under the deal, Iran would reduce the number of centrifuges to 5,000 at the Natanz uranium plant–half of the current number. Nationwide, the number of centrifuges would reduce from 19,000 to 6,000. The enrichment levels would be brought down to 3.7 percent, which was much lower than the 90 percent needed to make a bomb. The stockpile for the low-enrichment uranium would be capped to 300 kilograms for the next 15 years, down from the present 10,000 kilograms.

All of this was intended to restrict Iran’s capability to make a nuclear bomb and would ensure nuclear power usage is limited to civilian use only.

Immediate Results: (Cliff Notes version – Enter the Inspectors)
As the deal was finalized, a UN Security Council resolution was agreed upon.

By August 15, 2015, Iran was to submit written responses to the questions raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), about its nuclear program and developments. Additionally, it allowed monitoring of its facilities by IAEA inspectors on or before October 15, 2015.

Removal of Sanctions: (The Iranian people get an economic break – finally)
First, the oil embargo that prevented the import of oil from Iran was removed. The USA and EU lifted oil and trade-related sanctions. Foreign companies began to purchase oil from Iran, US companies located outside the USA were authorized to trade with Iran, and imports of selected items from Iran was permitted.

Additionally, sanctions on Iran’s banking and financial systems were dropped. It enabled the immediate release of around $100 billion currently lying frozen in Iranian bank accounts overseas.

Other Benefits: (Lot’s of countries gain and also stand to lose)
Immediately after the announcement, government officials from major European countries began visits to Iran to explore possible business deals with Iran.

Iran’s economy had been massively impacted by the sanctions. The removal of the sanctions, allowing Iran to open its doors for international business had a significant and almost immediate positive effect it’s economy.

Lifting sanctions allowed the sale of huge supplies of oil from Iran, which was thought to be sitting on large stockpiles due to years of imposed sanctions.

Although a few sectors like auto, oil, and infrastructure had significant interest from foreign companies in the pre-sanction era, the reality was that foreign businesses had limited presence in Iran since the 1979 revolution. In essence, the Iranian markets had remained largely unexplored by international businesses across many other industry sectors.

The Challenges: (Keeping track of the movements of a country around the globe isn’t as easy as we want it to be)
Former U.S. President Barack Obama claimed the deal would make the US and the world a safer place. However, concerns remained.

Challenges included administrating and monitoring the atomic facilities and developments in Iran. Complete awareness was required for the existing labs, establishments, underground sites, research centers, and military bases associated with nuclear developments. Though Iran agreed to provide the IAEA higher levels of information and deeper levels of access to all nuclear programs and facilities in the country, the details remained largely unclear and difficult to verify.

The Opposition (Isreal doesn’t like it – therefore Republicans don’t like it either)
The deal, although welcomed by a larger group of nations across the globe, also had opposition from a few prominent world leaders. The primary opposition was not surprisingly Isreal. Israeli leader Netanyahu said the deal “paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Additionally, Netanyahu said the deal was a platform to fund and nurture a nuclear-capable, religious-extremist country, saying a strengthened Iran could hinder peace and security in the region.

The Isreali government and the political right in the U.S. have always shared strong ties. So, it’s not a surprise that when a Republican President took the White House, the dialog changed.

And then there was Trump: (No shock here – Trump is going to act against the majority of the international community, again)
After the election of President Trump in November 2016, proponents of the deal feared the agreement, which they saw as a win for world peace, would be back on the table. And in October 2017, their fears were confirmed.

Trump announced that he would decertify the deal.

Under the terms, the U.S. President was required to sign off on the deal every 90 days, which he announced he would not do, accusing Iran of sponsoring terrorism. Although Trump has failed to offer any proof of Iran’s ties to terrorism, Trump said would deny Iran “all paths to a nuclear weapon.”

Not surprising, Trump’s decision was met with instant condemnation. The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was the first to weigh in saying the deal was “robust” and said there had been “no violations of any of the commitments in the agreement.”

After Trump’s decision, Congress has 60 days to reinforce sanctions, and given the hostility within the Republican party, an agreement to reinstate may be possible.

The Bottom Line: (Buckle the f*ck up. It’s going to get rocky)
The Pros and Cons of such a landmark deal were and will continue to be debated. Most views, claims, and allegations are often politically tuned. For now, the majority across the globe appears to be positive about the Iran nuclear deal. However, as Trump continues to barrel towards single-handedly ending the deal, the future for Iran and the peace process in the Middle East look shakier than ever.

Although public support for the Iran deal has reached its highest point previously recorded, according to a new poll, right as a deadline approaches for President Trump to re-certify the agreement in 10 days.

56 percent of people polled in the Morning Consult–Politico survey released Wednesday morning backed the nuclear deal, while 26 percent opposed it.

Republican voters are split, with 46 percent of voters in favor of the bill versus 42 percent against it.

The level of net support is at its highest since the last time it reached 56 percent, in April 2017. Despite all that, Trump is about to de-certify and it’s a watershed moment for American foreign policy and the world.

An American President only has to talk about taking action to create enough unrest to shake markets and create unrest. Even though the deal is still on the table, Trump’s stance has serious ramifications and a lasting impact. Should Trump actually end the deal, it will undoubtedly further distance the US from the most of the international community and its global leadership role.

Source: The Dummy’s Guide to the Iran Nuclear Deal



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