On January 20, 2014, Iran for the first time in nearly a decade took specific and verifiable actions that halted progress on its nuclear program and rolled it back in key respects, stopped the advance of the program, and introduced increased transparency into Iran’s nuclear activities.
The Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) Has Successfully Halted Progress on Iran’s Nuclear Program
To date, it is our assessment and that of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has carried out the very significant commitments it made, and has taken steps to address the international community’s greatest concerns. Iran has:
Transparency and Monitoring Under the Joint Plan of Action
Iran committed in the Joint Plan of Action to provide increased transparency into its nuclear program, including through more frequent and intrusive inspections as well as expanded provision of information to the IAEA.
Under the Joint Plan of Action, Iran’s enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow are now subject to daily IAEA inspector access. Over the past six months, the IAEA and Iran updated certain monitoring procedures, which have permitted IAEA inspectors to review surveillance information on a daily basis to shorten detection time for any Iranian non-compliance. In addition, these facilities remain subject to a variety of other physical inspections, including scheduled and unannounced inspections.
Under the Joint Plan of Action, the Arak reactor and associated facilities have been subject to at least monthly IAEA inspections – an increase from the pre-JPOA inspection schedule permitting IAEA access approximately once every three months or longer.
Under the Joint Plan of Action, Iran also provided:
These enhanced monitoring measures enabled the IAEA to provide monthly updates on the status of Iran’s implementation of its commitments and have enabled the international community to have more confidence that it would more quickly detect breakout or the diversion of materials to a secret program.
The Impact of the Joint Plan of Action on Iran’s Economy
Meanwhile, Iran still faces significant economic challenges and the limited relief provided under the Joint Plan of Action did not come close to “fixing” the Iranian economy.
Details of the Extension of the Joint Plan of Action
The Joint Plan of Action has given us the time and space to work to negotiate a comprehensive solution that will assure the world that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon and that its program is exclusively peaceful.
Over the last six months, we have made meaningful progress on some key issues, although we remain far apart on others. Today, we have a draft text that covers the main issues and identifies the key areas of disagreement, and we’ve discussed in great detail all of the elements that will have to be included in any comprehensive solution. As a result, we decided – along with the EU, our other P5+1 partners, and Iran – to extend the Joint Plan of Action until November 24, exactly one year since we finalized the first step understanding in Geneva. This will give us additional time to work to conclude a comprehensive solution, which we believe is warranted by the progress we’ve made and the path forward we can envision. Under this extension, Iran and the P5+1 and the EU will continue to uphold their commitments in the Joint Plan of Action. Iran’s nuclear program will remain frozen and rolled back in key areas, including by continuing to cap the amount of 5 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride and convert any material over that amount to oxide. Increased access for international monitors will continue.
Iran will also take further nuclear-related steps in the next four months that are consistent with its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action. Under the Joint Plan of Action, Iran diluted half of its 20 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride and converted the rest to oxide. Under this extension, Iran has committed to go one step further and make all of this 20 percent oxide into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Twenty-five kilograms of this material will be fabricated into fuel by the end of the extension. Turning this material from oxide to fuel means it would be even more difficult and time consuming for Iran to turn it into fissile material in a breakout scenario, and attempting to do so would be even more readily detected by the IAEA and would be an unambiguous sign of an intent to produce a weapon.
Iran has also committed to convert all of its very low enriched uranium – enriched up to 2 percent and estimated to be at least three metric tons – into natural uranium, further reducing its utility in a breakout scenario.
In return, we will continue to suspend the sanctions we committed to suspend under the Joint Plan of Action and will allow Iran access to $2.8 billion dollars of its restricted assets, the four-month prorated amount of the original Joint Plan of Action commitment.
Our goal in pursuing this brief extension was to capitalize on the progress we’ve already made, while giving us the best chance of success to reach a comprehensive solution at the end of this process.
A Historic Opportunity to Peacefully Achieve Our Objective
We have the unique opportunity to peacefully achieve our objective of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. That would be good for the security of the United States, our regional allies and partners, and the entire world. These negotiations represent our best chance at a lasting diplomatic solution that addresses our concerns. We knew that reaching a comprehensive solution would be difficult, and though progress has been made, these efforts may not ultimately succeed.
Our goal remains clear: to negotiate a comprehensive deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Over the next four months – building on the progress we’ve already made – we will determine whether there is a solution that gives us sufficient confidence that the Iranian program is exclusively peaceful.