On January 16th, the White House released a summary of the technical agreement worked out with Iran and the P-5. The technical agreement enables the Joint Action Plan to go into force on January 20th.
It will take some time to research the full agreement, but here are some initial thoughts:
The agreement addresses all known avenues for Iran’s production of nuclear materials that could be used for weapons.
½ of all centrifuges installed at Natanz and ¾ of centrifuges installed at Fordow are going off line on January 20th. They will not be permitted under the agreement to enrich uranium, greatly reducing Iran’s ability to produce enriched uranium. All next generation advanced centrifuges are covered under this enrichment freeze.
Iran is not permitted to produce new centrifuges except to replace damaged units – no growth in capacity during interim period. Can use the interim agreement to build a stockpile of units ready to break out.
½ of all of Iran’s near 20% enriched uranium to be diluted with uranium hexafluoride – can remain as UF6. The other ½ stockpile to be converted to uranium oxide – a substance that requires additional process to be re-enriched. This means Iran will stay well below the amount of 20% enriched material needed to make a break for a bomb. Israeli PM had made the amount of 20% a milestone of concern – the interim agreement addresses this effectively.
Progress on Arak reactor all but frozen. No fueling, transfer of equipment, no production of fuel allowed. Also, construction of reprocessing facilities not allowed under interim period. No reprocessing – no access to plutonium. About all Iran can do is produce heavy water, but not in itself a break out issue.
Iran agrees to daily access of enrichment sites, monthly access to Arak. Moreover, Iran agrees to provide for the first time:
1) Design information on Arak – enables outside work to know what it is, what it is for, what it could do in future if ever completed.
2) Managed access to centrifuge production sites and uranium mines and mills.
Parties also establish a Joint Commission – a group of technical experts from each country to monitor compliance and raise issues that might arise to the political directors level.
The agreement freezes almost the entirety of Iran’s nuclear material production complex and provides time for a comprehensive agreement to be negotiated. Such efforts may fail, but the the US and Israel will lose no ground or security while this agreement – assuming it is faithfully implemented – is in place.