President Obama Speaks On Iran Nuclear Deal

The big news over the weekend was the temporary deal the US and its allies struck with Iran over the country’s nuclear program. The deal – recently predicted in an exclusive Breaking Defense interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif – has been called the biggest diplomatic breakthrough with Tehran since the 1979 hostage crisis.

The New Yorker sat down with Gary Samore, who served as White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction during President Obama’s first term to get some details about the temporary agreement.

“Basically, Iran has agreed, for six months, to suspend activities to expand its existing enrichment program and complete the Arak heavy water research reactor, to suspend production of twenty-per-cent-enriched uranium and dispose of its existing stockpile of twenty-per-cent-enriched uranium, and to accept additional monitoring of its nuclear program.

In exchange, the U.S. and its P5-plus-1 partners have agreed, also for six months, to suspend efforts to increase sanctions; they will ease sanctions in a number of areas, estimated by the White House to be worth seven billion dollars. The actions on both sides are limited and reversible. Iran will continue to produce low enriched uranium (less than five per cent) at its current rate of production and retain its current stockpile of low enriched uranium, while the P5-plus-1 will continue to enforce the remaining sanctions.”

Next Steps

“According to the White House, the main oil and financial sanctions against Iran will remain in place during the interim deal. No doubt, the Iranians will try to exploit the limited sanctions relief to create loopholes to evade the remaining sanctions, and the U.S. will need to enforce the remaining sanctions to maintain leverage for negotiating a final deal or another interim deal. Our ability to rally international support to ramp up sanctions will depend heavily on being able to demonstrate that Iran has reneged or cheated on the agreement or is blocking diplomatic progress. Without a credible threat to increase sanctions, I doubt Iran will make additional nuclear concessions.”