Is The Iran Nuclear Deal a Historic Mistake? – Facts & Infographic

Is The Iran Nuclear Deal a Historic Mistake?

Is The Iran Nuclear Deal a Historic Mistake.

Is The Iran Nuclear Deal a Historic Mistake?

The Iran Nuclear Deal

On Sunday, November 24, 2013, after two months of grueling negotiations, the P5+1 nations reached a historic agreement with Iran at Geneva. The P5+1 nations are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France – as well as Germany.

These nations have been successful in brokering the deal that is expected to end Iran’s quest for a nuclear arsenal. While negotiations on a long term deal are still in progress, the preliminary agreement is likely to have immediate political ramifications in the region, apart from putting a cap on Iran’s nuclear program and opening the country up to inspection by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) over the next six months.

Key People Involved:

The key persons involved in the Iran nuclear deal are: US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Foreign Minister of France Laurent Fabius, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague, the Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. The persons behind the negotiations and deals include EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and US President Barack Obama. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif led the negotiations for Iran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was involved in behind-the-scene negotiations.

The Iran Nuclear Deal is historic insomuch that it is the first such agreement – a breakthrough – reached after almost 10 years of attempts to cap Iran's nuclear program.

Why Was Iran’s Nuclear Program a Threat?

Iran’s nuclear program started in 1957, when the Shah of Iran, Shah Reza Pahlavi partnered with the US to build nuclear facilities for non-military purposes. On July 1, 1968, Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Following the 1979 revolution, in which the Shah was overthrown, the US withdrew its support. It has been suspected for decades now that Iran has been using the facilities to build up a nuclear arsenal, although the Tehran administration denies all such accusations.

In September 2003,International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors declared that they found traces of enriched Uranium, used in the production of nuclear weapons, in Natanz. This was proof of non-compliance with the NPT. The US declared that it has sufficient proof to believe that Iran was on its way to acquiring nuclear weapons. Since 2006, a number of sanctions were leveled against Iran and international pressure was tremendous. Regional hostility with nations such as Saudi Arabia and Israel has further fueled tensions in the middle-east. Since 2011, the US, the EU, and many nations of the world have levied unprecedented sanctions crippling the Iranian economy. In November 2013 Iran and the P5+1 signed an interim agreement that would restrict Tehran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for some relief of economic sanctions.

What Has Iran Agreed to?

According to terms of the deal, over the next six months Iran has agreed to halt enrichment of Uranium above 5% and to neutralize its current stockpile of near-20% enriched Uranium. Uranium is a key chemical element in the production of nuclear weapons. Iran has now committed to not install any additional centrifuges or construct any facilities for Uranium-enrichment. The nation has also agreed to stop installing new centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow and to stop construction of the proposed heavy-water reactor at Arak and not to commission the reactor. No further facility capable of reprocessing Uranium (separating spent fuel and plutonium) will be built.

To enable the international community’s verification of its intentions, Iran has committed to unprecedented intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program and has opened up to complete transparency. IAEA inspectors shall now have complete access to the facilities at Natanz and Fordow, to all centrifuge assembly units in the country, to uranium mines and all the data and information as required in the Additional Protocol to Iran's IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Modified Code. A joint task force formed by the P5+1 nations and Iran shall ensure a compliance of all the safeguards required by IAEA.

In return, Iran may now expect some $7 billion (£ 4.3 billion) worth of sanctions relief. The sanctions are to be eased with immediate effect. Though this is only a tiny fraction of the $100 billion foreign exchange holdings that are currently inaccessible to Iran due to the sanctions, the relief to Iran is expected to be palpable.

Countries That Have Carried Out Nuclear Tests

Countries known to possess Nuclear weapons: US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, and Pakistan

Country suspected of possessing nuclear weapons: Israel

Country suspected of developing nuclear weapons: North Korea

Country suspected of pursuing the development of nuclear weapons: Iran


First Test

Most Recent Test

Total Tests

Estimated Warheads

United States










United Kingdom

























North Korea




Fewer than 10


No confirmed test

No confirmed test

No confirmed test



No confirmed test

No confirmed test

No confirmed test


Reactions to The Deal

Israel, Iran’s traditional foe, was predictably skeptical of the deal and denounced it as a mistake. Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu said,“

What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake. It's not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.” Israel is fierce in its objection of allowing Iran to continue with its Uranium enrichment program in accordance with the terms of the deal. For many decades now the international community had been asking for a complete cessation of the program.

Saudi Arabia, a rival of over 34 years and a Sunni-majority nation, was bitter at having been kept in the dark about the developments by its key ally, the US. The country’s political leadership could be suffering from insecurity that the deal would leave Iran, a Shia-majority nation, a dominant force in the Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, and that it would lose the backing of its greatest ally, political analysts believe. Iran is also a traditional rival when it comes to the oil trade and is likely to resume robust competition with the deal coming through. A Saudi government official said. "There is a lot of worry right now about threats to the region." On November 25, however, following international pressure Saudi Arabia joined other Gulf nations in welcoming the deal cautiously adding “provided there is goodwill”.


US President Barack Obama said the deal is a significant step forward. "For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back...The United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions....We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue they have been denied through sanctions."


Russian President, Vladimir Putin said "The result of Geneva is a win for all, showing once again that by working collectively and with mutual respect, it is possible to find answers to current international challenges and threats...We, together with our partners, are ready to continue a patient search for a mutually acceptable, wider integrated solution providing the inalienable right of Iran to develop a peaceful nuclear program under (International Atomic Energy Agency) control and security of all countries in the Middle East, including Israel."


Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani:"This agreement benefits all regional countries and global peace."


British Foreign Secretary, William Hague:"Iran has made a lot of concessions, a lot of commitment here, as part of a 'first step' deal."


French President, Francois Hollande:"The interim accord reached overnight is an important step in the right direction... towards stopping Iran's military nuclear programme and therefore normalising our ties."


"The IAEA welcomes the agreement reached in Geneva, which is another important step forward following the agreement reached between the Agency and Iran on 11 November in Tehran...with the agreement of the IAEA's Board of Governors, the Agency will be ready to fulfil its role in verifying the implementation of nuclear related measures."Yukiya Amano, Director General of IAEA, Vienna, Austria.


The UAE Cabinet welcomed the preliminary agreement and expressed hope that it will "represent a step forward to a permanent agreement that would preserve the stability of the region and protect it from tension and the danger of nuclear proliferation."


Syria called it "a victory for the logic of dialogue and political work over the logic of threats, ultimatums, challenges and wars." Omran al-Zoubi, Information Minister, Syria.


Egypt welcomed news of the agreement; the deal takes into account "the security concerns of all nations in the region."Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Egypt.


"The execution of this agreement is only the start of solving Iran's nuclear issues. In the future, there will be new issues and challenges...China will insist upon a political channel and continue to work with all sides toward the final resolution of Iran's nuclear issues."Wang Yi, Foreign Minister, China.


Back in the US, the stiffest opposition to the Iran deal came from the Republican quarters.


Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary, wrote on Twitter “The Iran deal and our allies: You can’t spell abandonment without OBAMA.”


Ron Christie, a Republican political strategist, called it a "disgraceful deal"


"Amazing what WH (the White House) will do to distract attention from O-care (Obamacare)," tweeted Senator. John Cornyn, senior United States Senator for Texas (Republican).


Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, said the arrangement could be detrimental.


"This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands...Iran will likely use this agreement - and any that follows that does not require any real concessions - to obtain a nuclear weapons capability."


Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, pointed to Iran's role in terrorist activities in recent years, saying Tehran hasn't signaled that it has abandoned those practices. "We may have just encouraged more violence in the future than we have stopped. That's why I hope we reconsider where we're at."


“The Secretary-General calls on all members of the international community to support this process which, if allowed to succeed, is likely to be to the long-term benefit of all parties."Ban ki-moon, UN Secretary General, Geneva.


"This is a major step forward. I hope it'll be sealed with a final agreement soon. I congratulate all parties for their constructive engagement" said President Abdullah Gul, Turkey.


"After decade of failed policies, world better off w/ Iran deal. Equity, trust building, respect & dialogue R key to any conflict resolution." Mohamed ElBaradei, former IAEA director, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Cairo, Egypt.


A significant advance in "providing assurances that guarantee the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program." Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Brussels.


“India welcomes the prospect of resolving questions related to Iran’s nuclear programme through dialogue and diplomacy,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi.


What Can we Expect Now?

With the easing of sanctions, the Iranian economy is likely to receive a much needed boost. The nation currently suffers from one of the deepest economic crises it has faced and has an unemployment rate of over 24%.


Diplomatic relations between US and Iran were broken off in 1979, following the Islamic Revolution of Iran. These could well be on the path to restoration if the deal goes as planned.

This should, however, mean that Israel well be on the way to independently continue an active campaign against Iran.

“The regime in Iran is dedicated to destroying Israel and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself with its own forces against every threat, I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not let Iran develop a nuclear military capability.” - Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.


Saudi Arabia may also consider its nuclear options with Riyadh also calling for “guarantee a right of all states in the region to use nuclear power peacefully.”

One of the immediate effects of the deal was seen in the price of oil. According to estimates by American Government, Iran is likely to have lost about 60% in oil sales and $80 billion in revenue since 2012 as a result of the sanctions imposed. Iran owns approximately 9% of the world's oil reserves - the fourth largest in the world. In 2010, Iran exported most of its oil to China (20%), Japan (17%), India (16%) Italy (10%), South Korea (9%) and the rest to other nations. Since 2011, with the US threatening to dissociate with all financial institutions of these nations, Iran's oil export has suffered immensely. With the deal coming through, Iran is likely to pump more oil into the world market, it seems. This is likely to bring down global oil prices.

The US in now likely to downsize its military presence in the region and allow for dominant regional forces to take over.


Verification is The Key”

According to the US Secretary of State John Kerry, a final and comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran is “not a question of trust. It’s a question of having the verification and the intrusive inspections and the insights into the program and the commitments that can be held accountable so that you are, in fact, creating a failsafe mechanism by which you are making your judgments. None of this – when you’re dealing with nuclear weapons, it’s not an issue of trust. As the old saying goes of Gorbachev and Reagan, trust but verify. Verification is the key. And President Obama and I have said since the beginning, we’re not just going to verify or trust and verify, we’re going to very and verify and verify. We have to know to a certainty so that Israel, Gulf states, ourselves, nobody can be deceived by what is taking place.” He also said that the United States was entering into the Iran negotiations“with eyes absolutely wide open. We have no illusions.”


According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on November 26, 2012, 44% of Americans support the deal with Iran while 22% oppose the deal. The remaining 34% were not sure.

According to another question in the poll, if the deal fails, 49% want the US to increase sanctions, 31% support further diplomatic efforts, and 20% favor military action against Iran. While it reflects the distrust of the Iran administration, it also showcases a strong desire in the US to avoid any new military conflict. It is also a surprising endorsement of President Obama who has steadily been losing popularity in the aftermath of Obamacare.


Iran has six months to comply with the terms listed in this deal and the world is watching to see how it acts to keep its word.



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