The joint commission on the Iran nuclear accord will meet in Vienna on September 1, the European Union announced Friday, after the US and its European allies sparred over Washington’s bid to reimpose UN sanctions on Tehran.
In 2015, Iran agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.
Iran was “very close” to developing a nuclear weapon
It came after years of tension over Iran’s alleged efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insisted that its nuclear programme was entirely peaceful, but the international community did not believe that.
Iran’s uranium stockpile was reduced by 98% to 300kg (660lbs), a figure that must not be exceeded until 2031. It must also keep the stockpile’s level of enrichment at 3.67%.
By January 2016, Iran had drastically reduced the number of centrifuges installed at Natanz and Fordo, and shipped tonnes of low-enriched uranium to Russia.
In addition, research and development must take place only at Natanz and be limited until 2024.
Before July 2015, Iran had a large stockpile of enriched uranium and almost 20,000 centrifuges, enough to create eight to 10 bombs, according to the Obama administration.
US experts estimated then that if Iran had decided to rush to make a bomb, it would take two to three months until it had enough 90%-enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon – the so-called “break-out time”.
Iran had been building a heavy-water nuclear facility near the town of Arak. Spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor contains plutonium suitable for a nuclear bomb.
World powers had originally wanted Arak dismantled because of the proliferation risk. Under an interim nuclear deal agreed in 2013, Iran agreed not to commission or fuel the reactor.
Under the JCPOA, Iran said it would redesign the reactor so it could not produce any weapons-grade plutonium, and that all spent fuel would be sent out of the country as long as the modified reactor exists.
Iran will not be permitted to build additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate any excess heavy water until 2031.
No enrichment will be permitted at Fordo until 2031, and the underground facility will be converted into a nuclear, physics and technology centre. The 1,044 centrifuges at the site will produce radioisotopes for use in medicine, agriculture, industry and science.
Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
The meeting will be chaired by the EU and attended by representatives of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran, the EU said in a statement.
#UK, #France & #Germany say cannot support #snapback "which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the #JCPOA."…"We remain committed to the JCPoA despite the significant challenges caused by #US withdrawal." Urge #Iran to return to full compliance.
— Margaret Besheer (@mbesheer) August 20, 2020
The US on Friday accused China and allies Britain and France of “abdicating their duty” as it held firm on its solitary push to maintain an arms embargo and restore broader UN sanctions on Iran dating back to 2006.
At the time of the agreement, then-US President Barack Obama’s administration expressed confidence that the JCPOA would prevent Iran from building a nuclear programme in secret. Iran, it said, had committed to “extraordinary and robust monitoring, verification, and inspection”.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear watchdog, continuously monitor Iran’s declared nuclear sites and also verify that no fissile material is moved covertly to a secret location to build a bomb.
Iran also agreed to implement the Additional Protocol to their IAEA Safeguards Agreement, which allows inspectors to access any site anywhere in the country they deem suspicious.
Britain, France, and Germany rejected the US move
Until 2031, Iran will have 24 days to comply with any IAEA access request. If it refuses, an eight-member Joint Commission – including Iran – will rule on the issue. It can decide on punitive steps, including the reimposition of sanctions. A majority vote by the commission suffices.
Britain, France and Germany had on Thursday rejected the US move, calling it “incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPOA,” the 2015 accord that aimed to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Read more: Trump pledges ‘snapback’ over humiliating UN defeat on Iran sanctions
The US administration of President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran accord in 2018 but controversially maintains it has the right to force the reimposition of sanctions through the agreement’s “snapback” mechanism.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk