Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle: Toward a Realistic and Effective Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement

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For well over a decade, the sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been at the center of international concern about the further spread of nuclear weapons.

In November 2013, after years of on-and-off negotiations, Iran and six world powers concluded an interim agreement that pauses the some of Iran’s most proliferation sensitive activities and opened the way for further talks on a long-term, comprehensive solution to would ensure Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.

This briefing book is designed to provide casual observers and experts alike with an overview of Iran’s nuclear history and diplomatic efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and an up-to-date summary of the status and capabilities of Iran’s nuclear program.

It is the third and substantially revised edition of “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle” from the Arms Control Association’s research staff.

The volume also reviews the major issues and explains the policy options for the comprehensive agreement. These include: how to limit Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity and plutonium production potential, the significance of more extensive IAEA safeguards, options for resolving concerns about possible weapons-related experiments by Iran, and the options for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

Executive Summary
Section 1: Background and Status of Iran's Nuclear Program
Section 2: Understanding the Joint Plan of Action
Section 3: A Comprehensive Agreement
Appendix A: Timeline of Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran*
Appendix B: History of Official Proposals on the Iranian Nuclear Issue*
Appendix C: Text of the Joint Plan of Action
Appendix D: Key Sanctions on Iran
Appendix E: The Military Option

*These Fact Sheet versions are updated on an ongoing basis.

This report was made possible by the generous support of our members and donors, without which this report would not have been possible. In particular, we wish to thank the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, and the Prospect Hill Foundation, which provide support for ACA research and public education programs on nuclear nonproliferation issues.