17 Jan 16. The fact that the IAEA has found that Iran is in full compliance with the terms of Implementation Day is both a serious step forward in preventing a nuclear arms race in the Gulf and the Middle East, and a potential step forward in ending the tensions between Iran and the United States as well as Iran’s tensions with its Arab neighbors.
The Positive Impact of Implementation Day
The fact that Implementation Day has occurred is real progress, regardless of the inevitable partisan political debate that has already begun. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has certified that Iran met the following terms:
- Reduce its supply of low-enriched Uranium from 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms of UF6— a 98 percent reduction.
- Fabricated all Uranium enriched to 5% through 20% into fuel plates for its Tehran Research Reactor, transferred it out of Iran, or sold and delivered it out of Iran.
- Reduced its active centrifuges by about two-thirds, from some 19,000 to less than 6,000 – although the IAEA has not determined the actual number of centrifuges Iran has in inventory. As a report by CSIS notes, “The report makes clear that the IAEA has not determined the number of centrifuges Iran has made. Iran merely had to state the number of rotor tubes and bellows it now has and allow the inspectors to count and number them. The IAEA did not determine, or have the means to determine, if Iran provided a complete declaration of all the rotors and bellows it possesses. How this issue of completeness will be addressed remains unclear.”
- Limited the operation of its centrifuges at Natanz – its primary facility capable of making weapons grade material to 5,060 operational first generation IR-centrifuges in no more than 30 cascades. Storing the rest of some 16,000 first generation and 164 more advanced IR-2m and 164 IR-4 centrifuges.
- Halted all Uranium enrichment at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), its underground facility in a mountain. Cut the number of its centrifuges at Fordow – from 9,000 to 2,800-3,000 centrifuges, none of which will remain operational. Remove all fissile material from the site, and convert it a nuclear research facility.
- Agreed to limit all Uranium enrichment to the 3.67% needed for nuclear power reactors for 15 years vs. the 90% enrichment generally described as weapons grade material.
- Ceased putting Uranium through, and conducting R&D on its more advanced IR-2m, IR-3, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, IR-7, and IR-8 centrifuges, and not build or test additional types – except for one IR-4, 10 IR-4 centrifuge cascade, and one IR-5, one IR-6 and potentially one IR-8. Give the IAEA full details to ensure the proper definition of each such centrifuge systems. Agree with JCPOA participants to a procedure for measuring the output of the IR-1m, IR-2m centrifuges.
- Provide a full long-term enrichment and R&D plan to set the terms for further control and inspection.
- Agreed to only conduct mechanical and Uranium testing of its centrifuges at its PFEP facility and the Tehran Research Center.
- Declared all Uranium Ore concentrate and allow IAEA inspection.
- Redesigned its heavy water reactors at Arak so it cannot produce weapons grade Plutonium, and limit its supply of nuclear grade Heavy Water to 130 metric tons for all enrichment activity.
- Agreed not to build any other reactor capable of producing weapons grade Plutonium for 15 years.
- Began new and more demanding monitoring and verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement, and Iran’s Subsidiary Agreement. IAEA inspectors will be granted regular access to all major nuclear sites and state a process of monitoring Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure from its uranium mills to centrifuge storage facilities, for up to 25 years.
- Gave UN inspectors the right to enter any suspect facility in Iran within a maximum period of 24 days. Iran can present reservations to the IAEA’s requests to visit suspicious facilities, but a special arbitration committee has been established to make a decision over inspections that includes members from six world powers, Iran and the European Union.
- Allowed the IAEA to install new on-line inspection machines with electronic seals.
- Accepted – and continue to accept – major new international controls over every aspect of its nuclear-related procurement activities.
- Accepted – and continue to accept – terms that allow all of the nuclear sanctions to be resumed within 65 days if it violates the terms of the agreement.
- Agreed to grant IAEA inspectors full daily access to Natanz, as well as give them permanent working spaces and facilities near all key Iranian facilities.
(The full text of the IAEA report on Implementation Day is shown at www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/16/world/middleeast/document-i-a-e-a-report-on-iran-s-nuclear-program.html?_r=0)
Important as these steps are, however, they are only a beginning in both dealing with the challenge of Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts and the broader strategic challenges involved.
The Continuing Risk of Proliferation
For all Iran has given up, there are still serious uncertainties regarding Iran’s future capabilities to develop nuclear weapons. A previous IAEA report – Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme, 2 December 2015 strongly indicated that Iran had continued to lie about continuing a nuclear weapons program through at least 2009, and had reached the nuclear weapons threshold in every major area of research and weapons grade production capability…
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Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).
© 2016 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. All rights reserved.
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