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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
June 1, 2018
Talks to Restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: Background and Resources

For Immediate Release: Jan. 31, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director (202-463-8270 x107); Julia Masterson, research associate (202-463-8270 x 103)

Multilateral negotiations to restore U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal are reportedly making progress. According to senior U.S. officials, the United States and Iran "are in the ballpark of a possible deal" to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

On Jan. 28, negotiators paused work to consult with capitals ahead of what could be a final push to reach a common understanding on a win-win outcome. The next few days and weeks may be critical if the talks are to succeed in resurrecting the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The United States and its partners are concerned that “the pace at which talks are progressing is not catching up with the pace of Iran’s nuclear advances,” which have accelerated throughout negotiations. U.S. officials have warned that Iran could soon reach a ‘nuclear breakout’ threshold, meaning that it could produce enough fissile material for one nuclear bomb. At that point, although Iran would need to master several additional, complicated steps to build a viable nuclear weapon, the White House has alluded that the United States might consider alternative strategies.

The JCPOA, which was concluded in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), verifiably blocked Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons and provided incentives for Tehran to maintain an exclusively peaceful nuclear program.

Following the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal in May 2018 and Iranian retaliatory measures that began in 2019, however, the agreement’s future is in jeopardy as Iran’s nuclear capacity continues to increase.

Promptly and simultaneously restoring U.S. and Iranian compliance with the JCPOA would help stabilize the current situation and prevent a major nuclear proliferation crisis in the region.

A return to full compliance with the JCPOA would also provide a platform for further negotiations on a long-term framework to address Iran’s nuclear program and would create space to engage with Iran on other areas of concern, such as regional tensions and its ballistic missile program.

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  • The comprehensive "Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" report (August 2015) includes:
    • a summary of the history and status of Iran’s nuclear program,
    • a detailed summary and explanation of the JCPOA,
    • answers to more than two-dozen frequently asked questions, and
    • annexes on “Understanding ‘Breakout’” and “Iran’s Ballistic Missiles and the Nuclear Deal.”

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