New information has been released outlining significant new nuclear concessions by Iran under the extended Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) secured on November 24, 2014.
Iran previously agreed under the JPOA to halt 20% enrichment, freeze 5% enriched uranium stockpiles at pre-JPOA levels, freeze installed centrifuges at pre-JPOA levels, halt construction at Arak, reduce and eliminate 20% enriched uranium stockpiles, and allow greater IAEA access to nuclear facilities. The IAEA has consistently confirmed Iran’s compliance with these commitments.
With the extended JPOA, Iran has now additionally agreed to allow snap inspections of centrifuge production facilities, limitations on R&D, and further conversion of 20% stockpiles to remove them as a breakout option.
In return, the P5+1 has agreed to continue the extremely limited sanctions relief provided under the existing JPOA. Increased flexibility on sanctions relief will be critical to achieving any foreseeable final nuclear deal.
Finally, implementation of new sanctions continues to be prohibited under the extended agreement. Congressional passage of new sanctions, if made law, would violate the JPOA and eliminate the constraints and verification measures on Iran’s nuclear program under the agreement.
The new Iranian nuclear concessions are detailed below:
Snap Inspections of Iran’s Centrifuge Production Facilities
Under the extension the IAEA will double its inspections of Iran’s centrifuge production facilities, including via unannounced snap inspections.
- This key concession will dramatically reduce the prospect of Iran diverting centrifuges to potential covert facilities that would be more conducive to nuclear breakout than declared, heavily monitored enrichment sites.
- The IAEA did not have access to these key nuclear facilities until the JPOA was implementedearlier this year. Any production of centrifuges during the JPOA will continue to be limited to replacing damaged machines.
Further Limitations on Research and Development of Advanced Centrifuges and Enrichment Technology
These new R&D limits address issues regarding Iran’s feeding of uranium into IR-5 centrifuges, which was permitted under the previous JPOA for research purposes but which raised concerns among some Washington think tanks. The new limits are:
- Iran cannot pursue semi-industrial-scale operation of the IR-2M, a necessary prerequisite toward mass production of the model.Iran cannot feed IR-5 model centrifuges with uranium gas.
- Iran cannot pursue gas testing of the IR-6 centrifuge on a cascade level.
- Iran cannot install the IR-8 centrifuge at the Natanz Pilot Plant, preventing it from being tested with uranium gas.
- Prohibitions on alternative forms of enrichment, including laser enrichment.
Conversion of More 20% Uranium Oxide to Reactor Fuel
Iran will convert 35 additional kg of its remaining 75 kg of 20% enriched uranium powder from oxide form into reactor fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and helps prevent the reversibility of a key Iranian concession under the JPOA.
- This step further eliminates the 20% enriched uranium that Iran produced between 2010-2013 from any breakout pathway, reduces Iran’s potential to rapidly produce fissile material.
- Under the first six months of the JPOA, Iran eliminated its stockpiles of proliferation sensitive 20% enriched uranium hexaflouride gas (UF6). It did so by converting half of its UF6 stockpile into oxide form, which is difficult to convert back into UF6, and down-blended the other half into lower level 3.5% UF6.
- Under the first extension between July 20 and November 24, Iran converted a quarter of the oxide into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, a form that would be exceedingly difficult to reverse for any potential breakout.
- Under this new stage, Iran will convert 35 kg of the remaining 75 kg of oxide into reactor fuel.