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The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, January 21
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Iran, P5+1 Mark Deal Implementation Day

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini announced on Jan. 16 that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Tehran completed its nuclear commitments under the July 14 nuclear deal.

The agency’s verification triggered “implementation day” according to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States). On implementation day, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran imposed by the United Nations, European Union, and the United States were lifted or waived.

Zarif and Mogerhini said “all sides remain firmly convinced that this historic deal is both strong and fair, and that it meets the requirements of all; its proper implementation will be a key contribution to improved regional and international peace, stability and security.”

Moving forward, Zarif and Mogherini noted that past UN resolutions on Iran were terminated and “United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the JCPOA, will from now onwards, together with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), be the sole international legal framework related to Iran's nuclear activities.”

In remarks on Jan. 17, President Barack Obama described implementation day as a “milestone.” He said, “under the nuclear deal that we, our allies and partners reached with Iran last year, Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb.  The region, the United States, and the world will be more secure.” Obama noted that prior to the negotiations that led to the deal, Iran’s nuclear program was expanding.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani also issued a statement on Jan. 17. Rouhani said that with implementation day, “Iran's nuclear rights has been accepted by all and the Iranian economy became a global one.” In a separate letter to the Supreme Leader, Rouhani said that the Iranian government will “precisely and seriously monitor implementation” of sanctions relief.

While Jan. 16 is a significant milestone, full implementation of the nuclear deal will require sustained commitment from Iran, the P5+1, and the IAEA for decades.

KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy

Quick Reference Links

The Nuclear Deal At a Glance Comprehensive Guide to the Nuclear Deal
Experts Available for Interview Editorials Supporting a Deal
Archived Iran Nuclear Alerts Additional Resources

What Did Iran Do?

The IAEA’s Jan. 16 report said that Tehran took all of the necessary steps agreed to in the nuclear deal to limit its nuclear program and the agency put in place additional monitoring and verification mechanisms.

The IAEA report noted that Iran

  • reduced the centrifuges at Natanz from over 16,000 to 5,060 IR-1 machines, which will enrich uranium to 3.67 percent, and removed the associated infrastructure;
  • reduced the number of IR-1 machines centrifuges at Fordow to 1,044 (328 will operate for radioisotope production) and removed all nuclear material;
  • stopped testing on advanced centrifuges machines and removed all advanced centrifuges except one, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, and IR-8 machine for testing with uranium and two single machines for mechanical testing;
  • stored all dismantled centrifuges under IAEA seal;
  • reduced the stockpile of enriched uranium to less than 300 kilograms;
  • removed the core of the Arak reactor and disabled it by filling it with concrete;
  • reduced its stockpile of heavy-water to 130 metric tonnes;
  • provided the IAEA with an inventory of all centrifuge rotor components and bellows;
  • began implementing its Additional Protocol; and
  • instituted enhanced transparency mechanisms, including continuous monitoring at key sites by the IAEA.

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano called a meeting of the agency’s Board of Governors to present the report. Amano told the board that the relationship between Iran and the IAEA is entering a “new phase” and the agency would establish a new office in the safeguards department to replace the existing Iran Task Force.

Amano also traveled to Tehran on Jan. 18 to meet with Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to discuss the agency’s activities in Iran. After the meeting, Amano said the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation. Amano stressed the “implementation of the additional protocol is of particular importance” moving forward.

After Amano’s visit to Tehran, Salehi said on Jan. 19 that Iran is now considered a “normal member of the agency” after implementation of the nuclear deal.

Several elements of the nuclear deal were not required to be completed before implementation day. That includes cooperation on nuclear security and safety projects, as well as the modifications to the re-designed Arak reactor.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Jan 17 that Tehran and Beijing planned to sign a document during the Chinese president’s visit to Iran that would formalize China’s assistance on the Arak Reactor modernization project. The redesigned reactor will still produce medical isotopes, but far less weapons-grade plutonium than originally designed.

Uranium Enrichment Monitoring

The IAEA released information on Jan. 16 on its Online Enrichment Monitor, which will be used to verify, in real time, that Iran is abiding by the 3.67 percent uranium-235 enrichment levels required under the deal.

Massimo Aparo, head of the IAEA’s Iran Task Force, said the device enables around the clock monitoring of enrichment levels and the total amounts of uranium gas at Natanz, whereas previously, inspectors had to take on-site samples or rely on environmental samples to calculate these figures. He said traditional sampling and analysis can take three weeks to generate results because of shipping time to IAEA labs.

According to the IAEA’s description, the Online Enrichment Monitors measures the amount of uranium-235 in the piping of a centrifuge cascade using a gamma ray detector based on a sodium iodide crystal. The monitors also employ pressure and temperature sensors to monitor the total quantity of uranium gas. The Online Enrichment Monitors will transmit encrypted data back to the IAEA. The monitors are closed under IAEA seals, have tamper indicators and battery back-ups. Aparo said traditional sampling will still be used in Iran, in conjunction with the monitors.

The IAEA plans to introduce the monitors at gas centrifuge enrichment plants in other countries.

Ballistic Missile Sanctions

On Jan. 17, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced new sanctions on eleven individuals and entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile programs.

Iran conducted two ballistic missiles tests, in October 2015 and November 2015, in violation of UN Security Council 1929, which prohibited Iran from testing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Nuclear-capable ballistic missiles are generally understood to be missiles capable of delivering a 500 kilogram (or greater) payload a distance of 300 kilometers (or more). Resolution 1929 was terminated on Jan. 16 as part of Iran deal implementation day.

Under the new resolution endorsing the nuclear deal, UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Iran is prohibited from testing ballistic missiles that are “designed to be nuclear capable.” The nuclear deal does not prohibit ballistic missile tests.

Iran’s Defense Minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said that Iran’s missile program will continue undeterred, despite the new sanctions. A statement from the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that the missiles are not designed for carrying nuclear weapons, and therefore missile tests “do not violate any international rule.”