U.S. and Iran find common ground in nuclear framework

Senior diplomats from the Unites States and Iran met in Switzerland to finalize the framework of a nuclear deal. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty)

The nuclear deal with Iran took many by surprise Thursday, Apr. 2. The framework of the negotiation calls for major limitations and restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, to which Iran agreed. Negotiators have set a deadline of June 30, 2015 for the agreement to be finalized and signed by both Iran and the United States.

“This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon,” said President Obama after the deal was announced. “Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.”

This diplomatic advance requires specific stipulations in order to restrict the Iranian nuclear program from producing nuclear weapons. The deal includes reducing Iran’s centrifuges from 20,000 to 6,000, the supply of uranium reduced from a stockpile of 10,000kg to 300kg and facilities redirected to making nuclear fuel instead of nuclear weaponry. Overall, uranium will stop being enriched to the 90 percent level required for nuclear weapons and instead be contained to 3.67 percent enrichment.

Politicians and experts were shocked at the stipulations to which Iran agreed. The framework is very close to what the United States proposed and compromises little of what world powers wanted from Iran.

“We would hope that this would be the way to actually verify all enrichment programs, but thought that would never be feasible,” said Aaron Stein, one of the non-proliferation experts astonished at the outcome of the deal’s framework. “If these are the parameters by which the [final agreement] will be signed, then this is an excellent deal.”

Holding Iran’s nuclear program accountable is an important factor in the deal. Regular inspections will be performed on all nuclear fuel plants in order to verify that the equipment and stockpile is indeed being reduced and limited. Inspectors will also gain access to any facilities that are under suspicion of being turned into a nuclear weapon plant.

Inspectors will also be overseeing the reformation of Arak, an Iranian plutonium plant. The plant had formerly been producing weapon-grade plutonium. Energy-grade plutonium will be the new focus of the facility.

If Iran signs the deal and complies with the agreement, economic sanctions against Iran will be lifted. The United States and United Nations have had sanctions imposed on Iran for decades, and if they are lifted, Iran will be able to trade with the United States and countries that are members of the U.N.

Obama has deemed this a historical agreement with peaceful alliances to end the production and stockpiling of nuclear weaponry in Iran. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was also pleased by the outcome of the framework’s draft.

“We have a very serious problem of confidence — mutual lack of confidence, which we need to address,” said Zarif after announcing the framework. “And we hope that this process will remedy some of that.”

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