All you need to know about the 5+1 nuclear deal on Iran’s nuclear power

On July 14th2015, China, Russia, the United Kingdon, France, Germany, the United States, the EU andIransigned the Jcpoa (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) – better known as the “5+1” nuclear agreement – with the objective of ensuring that Iran carried out development of nuclear power only and exclusively for peaceful aims. The agreement was reached two years following the previous one, signed in Geneva, the Ipoa (Joint Plan of Action) which partially “froze” a portion of Teheran’s atomic program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions.

October 18th 2015 marks what has come to be known as “Adoption Day”, that is the day on which, as established in the “5+1 deal”, the parties began to implement all the necessary groundwork to reach its actual executionwith particular attention to the resolution on international sanctions.

On January 16th2016, once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had verified that Iran had taken all the measures necessary to respect the preliminary clauses of the treaty, the “5+1 nuclear deal” was declared fully operational. That day is officially known as “Implementation Day”and represents the end of the economic sanctions and trade limitations which the UN had imposed and which had crippled Iran for a decade.

8 years after Adoption Day, complete cancellation of EU sanctions regarding the proliferation of nuclear power in Iran will take place; or earlier should the Iaea certify that all nuclear activities carried out by Iran are solely of a peaceful nature. That moment is defined as “Transition Day”.

The treaty requires Iran’s nuclear program to be carried out exclusively with peaceful intents and constitutes an important step forward in international relations on the issue. The implementation of this deal is seen as a milestone for international peace and regional stability in so much as it determines that Irandoes not intend to arm itself with any type of atomic weapon, whether it be acquired or constructed. Further the 5+1 deal allows Iran to continue nuclear research for commercial and scientific purposes, including activities of enrichment, research and development concurrently with the lifting of international sanctions to which the Country has been subjected.

A joint commission made up of the E3/Eu+3 (France, Germany and UK) and the Iaeawas appointed to oversee the implementation of the treaty clauses always in the spirit of mutual respect and with the objective of building new relations with Iran. It was decided that the commission should meet every two years – or earlier if necessary – to assess progress made and to adopt any exceptional measures.

After this Iran will be able to continue uranium enrichment correlated activities for 15 years, including R&D activities, exclusively at the Natanz site on condition that enrichment levels should not exceed 3,67%. Jointlyit must cease any such activities – including storage – in its nuclear site in Fordow, which to this day, according to some sources including Israeli ones, is going through a reactivation phase. The deal states that Fordowshould be converted into a science research centre with peaceful objectives, meaning that nuclear physics and technology research activities are permitted.

Iran must limit its reserves of enricheduranium – in the form of uranium hexaflouride or equivalent – to no more than 300 kg. Any excessquantity must be sold at market prices and delivered, in exchange for raw mineral (usually uranium ore or uranium oxide) to international buyers on the basis of the laws regulating the sale of such materials. The remaining enriched uranium with percentages between 5 and 20% mush be converted into fuel for the Trr (Teheran Research Reactor).

As concerns the heavy water reactor in Arak – equippedto produce atomic explosives – the 5+1 deal defines that it should be converted to use exclusively uranium at 3.67%, and consequently stop its production of plutonium. All spent fuel from the facility must be sent abroad for the entire duration of the reactor.  Again on the topic of heavy water facilities it has been determined that Iran should not build any more for a period of 15years, nor should it store heavy water.  Also, again for 15 years Teheran must not carry out any attempt to reprocess spent nuclear fuel or build any facility to this end, nor carry out any R&D activities on the subject.

Parallel to the strictly technical clauses the deal also included a number of“transparency”rulesto enable a proper application of the 5+1 agreement. On the basis of these Iran must allow the Iaea to monitor in a permanent manner progress made of the “military denuclearization” with all activities inherent to enrichment, and therefore centrifuges, being supervised for a period of 20 years.

Iran must completely comply withthe “Roadmap for Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues” agreed with the Iaea, which contains indications regarding problems relating to past and present nuclear activities.

The UN Security Council, while assessing full application and respect of the Iaea’s 5+1 deal clauses, made ineffective allthose resolutions (seven between 2006 and 2015) which had submitted Iran to a regime of economic and trade sanctions. The same was done by the European Union and the United States.

The sanctions cover numerous aspects of the Country’s economy and commerce. They include articles which aim to prevent the transfer of funds, bank transactions, quash any support for trade with Iran, an embargo on oil, gas, Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products, investments in the oil&gas industry, export of naval equipment and technology, as well as the access to ports and airports. As mentioned, all sanctions must be abolished within 8 years of the Adoption Day, or when the Iaea will have certified that Iran has fully implemented all the clauses of the treaty.

The 5+1 deal includes a clause which safeguards Iran from any restrictive measures which could prevent or delay the lifting of sanctions. Infact if Teheran, at any moment following  Implementation Day, believes that the E3/EU+3 Countries are in any way hindering or obstructing the abolition of sanctions, it can appeal to the Jcpoa participants to adopt measures to solve the issue. According to the treaty the EU and US cannot issue any further sanctions.

It is interesting to note that the 5+1 deal explicitly states that the EU, US and Iran must fulfill all treaty obligations,“in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere, based on mutual respect, and to refrain from any action inconsistent with the letter, spirit and intent of this JCPOA that would undermine its successful implementation.”

Further, the treaty states that concurrently with the lifting of sanctions and the dismantling of the facilities for the production of nuclear weapons, the EU must launch joint projects with Iran for the development of technologies aimed at a peaceful use of nuclear energy, such as the construction of facilities, research reactors, the manufacture of fuel, advanced R&D programs, for example concerning fusion, and the construction of a highly developed regional nuclear medicine centre including staff training, as well as the implementing of security standards and environmental protection.

If one of the parties believes that one or more of the treaty clauses has been disregarded, they can, at any given moment initiate a bureaucratic procedure which lasts approximately one month during which an especially appointed commission (the Joint Commission) will be called to express itself.  Should the party not be satisfied with the decision reached, they can decide to opt out of the treaty, in part or completely, prior notification to the UN Security Council who must deliberate and consider whether to apply or lift the sanctions.