July 14, 2015

Iran Nuclear Deal a Major Step Forward for Nonproliferation

WASHINGTON (July 14, 2015)—The Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action announced earlier today is an important achievement, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). If fully implemented, the agreement will significantly restrict Iran’s ability to produce fissile materials suitable for nuclear weapons for the next decade.

Iran has agreed to limit its installed enrichment capacity, limit its enriched uranium stockpiles, restrict uranium enrichment activities to one site, and redesign the Arak reactor to make it less suitable for producing plutonium for weapons purposes. It also has agreed to not reprocess its spent fuel to separate out plutonium for 15 years and declared its intent to not reprocess after that time.

Iran and the negotiating parties also agreed on a procedure for resolving concerns about Iran’s activities at undeclared sites.

There appear to be some areas where the provisions in the agreement are not as strong as the parameters in the April 2015 framework issued by the White House. For instance, the April 2015 document stated that Iran had committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing. UCS is disappointed that this commitment has been weakened.

In addition, the procedure for resolving concerns about activities at undeclared sites could take as long as 24 days to complete. This appears to fall short of how the inspection protocol was described in the April 2015 document.

On balance, however, today’s agreement is a major step forward for nonproliferation and should be endorsed by the U.S. Congress.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.