Report: Iran Still Faces Large Hurdles to Reach Final Nuclear Deal

The analysis comes as the interim agreement on the country’s nuclear program went into effect this week.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L), European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (C ) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2ndR) wait prior to a meeting on November 9, 2013, on the third day of talks on Iran's nuclear programme at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva Switzerland. Crunch talks between Iran and world powers stretched into an unscheduled third day on November 9 as top diplomats pushed for a deal to end the decade-old standoff over Iran's nuclear programme. 
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Jan. 21, 2014, 8:36 a.m.

The Ir­a­ni­an gov­ern­ment agreed to curb its urani­um en­rich­ment un­der the in­ter­im agree­ment that went in­to ef­fect Monday, but that’s a just small be­gin­ning to lar­ger steps it would likely need to take as part of a long-term deal.

That’s the as­sess­ment in the re­port from the In­sti­tute for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tion­al Se­cur­ity re­leased Monday. The IS­IS based its con­clu­sions on talks with seni­or U.S. of­fi­cials.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the Ir­a­ni­an gov­ern­ment would likely have to make a num­ber of modi­fic­a­tions in­clud­ing:

  • Shift­ing the un­der-con­struc­tion, heavy-wa­ter re­act­or in Arak to a light-wa­ter re­act­or. The re­act­or — which has been a source of ten­sion between the Ir­a­ni­an gov­ern­ment and West­ern of­fi­cials — would en­rich be­low 5 per­cent for iso­tope urani­um 235. Urani­um 235, if en­riched enough, can be used in a weapon.

  • Not stock­pil­ing en­riched urani­um bey­ond what is needed for a peace­ful ci­vil­ian pro­gram.

  • For at least 20 years, lim­it­ing its en­rich­ment to one nuc­le­ar site and shut­ting down its cur­rent site at For­dow, or con­vert­ing it to a “non-cent­ri­fuge-re­lated site.” Cent­ri­fuges are a key part of the urani­um-en­rich­ment pro­cess.

  • Cent­ri­fuges will be lim­ited; and ex­cess cent­ri­fuges will be re­moved from nuc­le­ar sites at Natanz and For­dow. The In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency will be re­spons­ible for mon­it­or­ing the cent­ri­fuges.

  • For at least 20 years, caps should be placed on the amount of 20 per­cent low-en­riched urani­um ox­ide that Ir­an pos­sesses. The ma­ter­i­al can eas­ily be con­ver­ted to hex­a­flu­or­ide, needed to cre­ate fuel for an atom­ic bomb.

Some of the pro­vi­sions are meas­ured on a 20-year timeline be­cause, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, that is the min­im­um amount of time the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity needs to feel con­fid­ent in treat­ing Ir­an like oth­er non-nuc­le­ar coun­tries that fol­low the Nuc­le­ar Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty.

Dav­id Al­bright, a former U.N. weapons in­spect­or who leads IS­IS, told The Wall Street Journ­alwhich was giv­en ex­clus­ive ac­cess to the re­port — “Our re­quire­ments are a far cry from what Ir­an wants. The ne­go­ti­ations are go­ing to be really tough. We don’t see ourselves as sketch­ing an ex­treme case, however.”

The re­port comes as the IAEA an­nounced Ir­an has agreed to an in­spec­tion sched­ule of its nuc­le­ar fa­cil­it­ies, slowed con­struc­tion on the Arak heavy-wa­ter re­act­or, and be­gun us­ing cent­ri­fuges pre­vi­ously used to en­rich urani­um to 20 per­cent for 5-per­cent en­riched urani­um.

Of­fi­cials have said talks at reach­ing a long-term deal on Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram could start next month.

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