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"Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle" Updated ACA Briefing Book Available
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For Immediate Release: September 5, 2013

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 ext. 107; Kelsey Davenport, Nonproliferation Analyst, 202-463-8270, ext. 102.

(Washington, D.C.)  As international leaders prepare for a new round of talks with Tehran to secure an agreement that guards against a nuclear-armed Iran, the non-partisan Arms Control Association has updated its comprehensive, user-friendly guide to Iran's nuclear program and its capabilities, and the risks, benefits, and limitations of the available policy options.

The election of Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran in June presents an important opening for the United States to reinvigorate negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The United States, along with Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, are expected to resume talks with President Rouhani's new negotiating team this fall.

"Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle," written by the ACA research staff, (PDF) includes:

  • An overview of the technical status of Iran's nuclear program, including an outline of the key steps that would be required to build nuclear weapons;
  • A summary of the national and international sanctions that have been imposed on Iran;
  • A summary of the risks and limits of potential military action;
  • A review of the current state of P5+1 negotiations with Iran and an analysis of options for a potential deal that could prevent a nuclear-armed Iran;
  • An annotated timeline of nuclear diplomacy with Iran from the origins of its nuclear program to the present; and
  • A short history of official proposals on the Iranian nuclear issue from 2003 to today.

The report finds that "international sanctions have slowed Iran's nuclear program ... yet these sanctions, even it tightened further, cannot stop Iran's nuclear pursuits. The use of military force ... short of a complete military occupation of the country, can only temporarily set back Iran's nuclear program and would likely prompt Iran to eject the IAEA inspectors and actively pursue nuclear weapons."

"President Obama and other leaders must redouble efforts to engage Iran in serious sustained negotiations on arrangements that guard against a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran's leaders must, of course, also be willing to engage in good faith in these efforts," the report concludes.

"To do so, it is essential that Iran agree to halt its accumulation of 20 percent enriched uranium and restrict its enrichment operations and stockpiles to normal power reactor-grade levels and other civilian, peaceful needs. To verify and monitor Iran's commitments, the IAEA must be allowed to conduct more intrusive monitoring and it must be able to ascertain that any past weapons-related work by Iran has been discontinued."

"In exchange, there should be an appropriate and proportional paring back of international sanctions on Iran and P5+1 recognition that Iran has a legitimate claim to pursue the peaceful uses of nuclear energy," write the briefing book authors. "A diplomacy-centered solution is difficult, but it is the best option on the table."

The updated 44-page report can be downloaded here.


The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding and effective policies to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons: nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as certain types of conventional weapons that pose a threat to noncombatants. ACA publishes the monthly journal Arms Control Today.