There is much controversy about the very limited deal that was struck between Iran the U.S. and other member states of the Security Council of the U.N. plus Germany. The significance is this marks the first discussion between leaders of the U.S. and Iran since 1979.
The most important step in the agreement is for Iran to freeze its nuclear development program in place except for its nuclear material enrichment activities that it will roll back from a level of 20% enrichment to a level of 5%. While this may not be seen as significant, the 5% level is the international norm for enriched uranium for power generation while anything over that serves efforts to develop a bomb.
While this agreement is only valid for a six month time period, it is meant to give the two sides enough time to reach a more definitive agreement that will bind both for many years. In exchange for this short-term agreement, the U.N. will loosen a minor amount of the economic sanctions on Iran. This will give Iran access to about $7 billion of its assets while retaining sanctions on the rest of the total of about $100 billion that is presently blocked.
Countries such as the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany support the treaty. Regional parties who still do not trust Iran are vehement in their rejection of the deal. Most particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia oppose any agreement.
It is said that the sanctions imposed on Iran over the years have taken quite a toll on the Iranian economy. Stretching from sanctions on anything related to nuclear materials, oil, arm sales, certain financial institutions, including the country’s central bank, these steps have made Iran an international pariah. They have created plummeting oil revenues, the local currency has lost 80% of its value and there is spiraling inflation and layoffs.
Considering the severe impact of the sanctions on Iran, the minor concessions granted during the agreement appear to be well worth the risk. Any agreement would also call for the unlimited access of U.N. inspectors at any interval considered necessary, including daily. This is a hard learned lesson from previous agreements.
Use the following links to obtain more information about the agreement or to access source documents: