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Iran's Nuclear Deal: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Philip H. Gordon, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
July 17, 2015

Talks over Iran’s nuclear program have concluded with a deal that will limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for relief from economic and financial sanctions. Before the sanctions are lifted, Iran must show that it has implemented agreed-upon restrictions. CFR Senior Fellow Philip Gordon offers three things to know about the recent agreement.

Approval Required:  The UN Security Council and U.S. Congress must approve the deal, which will take two months, says Gordon. Then the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must verify that Iran has provided information on its nuclear work and eliminated two-thirds of its centrifuges, the core of its heavy-water nuclear reactor, and several tons of low-enriched uranium before sanctions are lifted. “This process will take several more months at least,” says Gordon.

Verification is Crucial: “The international community is not ready to simply trust Iran,” says Gordon, highlighting examples of past Iranian violations. The deal, which calls for strict monitoring, also includes a mechanism that allows major powers to reinstate sanctions without needing to overcome a potential veto in the Security Council. “If Iran cheats, the deal is off, and the sanctions are back on,” explains Gordon.

No Good Alternative: “The alternative to this deal is not necessarily a better deal, but, potentially, no deal at all,” says Gordon. If the U.S. Congress kills the deal, Iran could install new centrifuges, construct a heavy-water reactor, and enrich uranium—all without submitting to the monitoring and verification called for by the agreement.


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