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Will R&D agreement seal the Iran deal?

Research and development for Iran's nuclear program will play a large role in how the final nuclear agreement looks.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran.

An Iranian operator monitors the nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr, about 1,215 km (755 miles) south of Tehran, November 30, 2009. Russia plans to start up Iran's first nuclear power station in March 2010 to coincide with the Iranian New Year, two sources closely involved with the project told Reuters. Russia agreed in 1995 to build the 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant

Research and development has surfaced as a barrier to progress with only a week until the deadline to agree on the parameters of a final nuclear deal. If past performance is an indicator, pursuit of research and development (R&D) is likely to be a key domestic selling point of any comprehensive agreement for the Iranians. The pertinence of this stumbling block should not be underestimated.

Throughout his campaign in the run-up to his June 2013 election, President Hassan Rouhani defended heavily criticized policy decisions when he was chief negotiator in 2003-05 by pointing to parallel pursuit of scientific development. Specifically, he sought to sell Iran’s voluntary and temporary freeze on uranium enrichment by arguing that it allowed necessary time and space to master technologies that Iran lacked at the time, with specific reference to the Uranium Conversion Facility at Esfahan.

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