With Senate Democrats effectively blocking congressional efforts to kill the Iran nuclear deal, international attention now shifts to Tehran’s implementation of measures that are designed to cut off its pathways to building nuclear warheads.
“The next steps will be Iran’s,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday, a day after Senate Democrats corralled enough votes to prevent passage of a Republican-sponsored resolution disapproving of the deal.
For their parts, the United States and the European Union must begin making the “necessary arrangements and preparations” to lift economic sanctions once the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Iran has put in place the restrictions on its nuclear program.
The next month includes some key dates to put into effect the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which was negotiated over two years between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
On Thursday, the 60-day congressional review period ends, although deal opponents are expected to persist in their efforts to kill the agreement.
By Oct. 15, Iran must provide to the IAEA any followup information sought by agency experts investigating allegations that Tehran researched a missile-borne nuclear warhead until late 2003.
Then on Oct. 19, the deal officially goes into effect on what is known as Adoption Day, 90 days after its endorsement by the U.N. Security Council.
Iran must begin putting into effect the deal’s limits on its nuclear program. They include disassembling, removing and storing under IAEA seals and constant monitoring at its Natanz facility more than 13,000 centrifuges, the devices that produce low-enriched uranium for reactor fuel and highly enriched uranium for nuclear warheads. It will be allowed to run only 5,060 first-generation machines for 10 years, producing low-enriched uranium of no greater than 3.67 percent purity.
Other steps Iran must take: cut to no more than 660 pounds its stockpile of more than 12 tons of low-enriched uranium, either through dilution to natural uranium or sales to an international buyer; end uranium enrichment at its deeply buried Fordow site and convert it to a research and development facility; and remove the core of the heavy-water reactor at Arak so that it can’t produce weapons-grade plutonium.
All of those actions are to be tracked by unprecedented IAEA monitoring, which also is to be carried on at all of Iran’s nuclear installations.
13,000+ The number of centrifuges Iran must disassemble and store under IAEA monitoring.
Once the IAEA has verified that Tehran has taken the steps it’s required to enact, the European Union and the United States are expected to carry out their end of the bargain. The European Union must adopt regulations that would end its sanctions on Iran, and President Barack Obama must approve waivers of U.S. sanctions that are related to Iran’s nuclear program.
Dec. 15 is the target date for the IAEA to issue the findings of its investigation into Iran’s alleged research into a missile-borne nuclear warhead.
Implementation Day is the biggest day of the agreement, the day when the IAEA verifies that Iran has implemented all of the steps it’s required to take in exchange for the lifting of the international and bilateral nuclear-related sanctions that have crippled its economy. When precisely that day will come is not known, though it’s expected to be in 2016. The United States estimates that it could take Iran up to nine months to implement all of its obligations under the agreement.
The next steps will be Iran’s.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
U.N. sanctions that will be lifted could be re-imposed “in the event of significant non-performance by Iran of JCPOA commitments,” according to the plan.
Iran will receive access to funds, mostly from oil sales, that were frozen by other countries. The amount is estimated at some $125 billion, but the Obama administration says that Iran only will have access to about $55 billion because the rest will have to be used to settle outstanding obligations, including infrastructure projects with China.
The Obama administration asserts that the cash that Iran will receive is a fraction of more than $500 billion in debts owed by the government.