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Iran Nuclear Agreement

Introduction


The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), often known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement, is a historic agreement that was made between Iran and other superpowers, notably the United States, in July 2015. By its provisions, Iran consented to destroy a large portion of its nuclear programme and permit more thorough international inspections of its facilities in exchange for sanctions relief worth billions of dollars. As a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which has been in effect since 1970, Iran previously consented to forego nuclear weapon development. But after the Pahlavi regime was overthrown in 1979, Iranian leaders secretly sought after this technology.


The deal's proponents claimed that it would lessen the likelihood of violence between Iran and its regional enemies, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, by preventing a resurgence of Iran's nuclear weapons development.


The five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) as well as Germany, collectively known as the P5+1, were at the centre of discussions with Iran.


Key features


  • For a period of 13 years, Iran committed to eliminating its medium-enriched uranium stockpile, cutting its low-enriched uranium stockpile by 98%, and reducing the number of its gas centrifuges by around two-thirds.

  • Iran will only enrich uranium to a maximum of 3.67% during the next 15 years. Iran also consented to postpone the construction of any new heavy-water facilities.

  • To reduce the possibility of proliferation, other facilities will be modified. All Iranian nuclear facilities will be regularly accessible to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to monitor and confirm Iran's adherence to the deal.

  • The P5+1 aimed to scale back Iran's nuclear programme such that it would take at least a year for Tehran to develop a nuclear bomb, giving other countries time to retaliate.



Controversies


Since President Donald Trump removed the United States from the agreement in 2018, the accord has been in risk. Iran has resumed parts of its nuclear efforts in retribution for the departure of the United States and for deadly assaults in 2020 on important Iranians, one of which was carried out by the United States. Trump left office without carrying out that promise, and researchers found that Iran has advanced in its nuclear weapons development since the American pullout.

After an airstrike on the Baghdad Airport that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, Iran announced that it would no longer adhere to the deal's restrictions but would still cooperate with the IAEA, keeping the door open for future compliance.

President Joe Biden stated in 2021 that if Iran resumed compliance with the agreement, the United States would rejoin it. Although restarting diplomatic relations first appeared encouraging, it is still unclear whether the parties can come to an understanding.

Given that they would be most impacted by an Iran with nuclear weapons, certain Middle Eastern states, like Saudi Arabia, said they should have been consulted or participated in the negotiations. Israel openly criticised the arrangement as being overly mild.

The negotiating parties feared that Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons could cause the region to spiral into another catastrophe. Israel had taken military action ahead of time against alleged nuclear sites in Iraq and Syria, and it could do the same against Iran without risking retaliation from the Hezbollah in Lebanon or a disruption of oil shipping in the Persian Gulf.

By November 2021, Iran had accumulated an enriched uranium stockpile that was significantly bigger than what was allowed, including at least 17.7kg (39lb) of material that was enriched to a purity of 60%, which is just below the threshold required for a bomb. Additionally, it has started to produce enriched uranium metal, which is a crucial component of nuclear bombs, and resumed enrichment efforts.

All UN sanctions would immediately "snap back" in place for 10 years, with the option of a five-year extension, if the negotiations were to fail and Iran were found to have broken the agreement.

Effects on Oil

  • The agreement allows the US to lift sanctions on buying Iranian oil. In 2019, Trump completely revoked the waivers, reinstating penalties against all nations attempting to buy Iranian crude.

  • The restored agreement, like the original, is not anticipated to lift a long-standing ban on U.S. imports of Iranian oil, but it does mean that countries can purchase it without worrying about facing additional sanctions.

  • Iran may not begin selling oil on international markets for around two months after the agreement of accord.

  • Iran has millions of barrels of oil on tankers that it might immediately send to clients.



Effects on Banking


Sanctions imposed on Iran's banking sector by the Trump administration went beyond those in place before to the 2015 nuclear agreement.


The majority of Iran's state-run and private banks were additionally subject to sanctions relating to terrorism and missile activity. After connecting Tehran to an attack on a significant Saudi oil complex, the United States also imposed terrorism sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran in 2019. Those monies are anticipated to be released promptly under a resurrected agreement. Iran will have access to the global banking communications system SWIFT once more.



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