Iran will begin suspending parts of its uranium enrichment program and downblending its stockpile of uranium enriched up to 20% over the next six months in return for modest relief from international sanctions.
On 24 November 2013, Iran reached an agreement with the P5+1 countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the USA and the EU) to limit its uranium enrichment activities in return for some easing of economic sanctions. The initial steps of that action plan - known as the 'Geneva agreement' - covered a term of six months, but was renewable by mutual consent.
A set of "technical understandings" on the measures to be implemented by both sides has now been worked out during further meetings in Geneva on 9 and 10 January.
From 20 January, Iran will halt enrichment of uranium above 5% U-235 and begin downblending its stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20%. The country has also granted access for international inspections at the Fordo uranium enrichment and the Arak heavy water reactor. In return, Iran will gain access to some $4.2 billion in restricted assets, which will be released in regular instalments throughout the six-month period.
The deal was welcomed by US secretary of state John Kerry, who said: "As this agreement takes effect, we will be extraordinarily vigilant in our verification and monitoring of Iran's actions, an effort that will be led by the International Atomic Energy Agency." He noted, "While implementation is an important step, the next phase poses a far greater challenge: negotiating a comprehensive agreement that resolves outstanding concerns about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."
Russia's ministry of foreign affairs said that it hoped "the successful implementation of the initial phase will create the necessary conditions for the development of reaching further agreements that will result in a final and comprehensive settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program."
According to the action plan agreed last November, the parties aim to conclude negotiating and begin implementing a long-term comprehensive solution within a year of the adoption of the Geneva agreement. This solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment program with "practical limits and transparency measures" to ensure that Iran's nuclear program remains peaceful. "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons," the action plan stated.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News