Iran to limit centrifuge R&D under extension

Article Summary
Iran has agreed to take further steps to freeze its nuclear program under the terms of a seven-month extension of an interim nuclear deal in exchange for continued sanctions relief.

Iran will limit research and development on its advanced centrifuges, grant the IAEA expanded access to its centrifuge facilities and convert half its stocks of 20% oxide into fuel for a research reactor under the terms of a seven-month extension on an interim nuclear deal reached with six world powers in Vienna last week.

The terms of the extension were shared with Al-Monitor by a source briefed by the negotiating teams. In return for the steps Iran will take, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) have agreed to continue providing Iran $700 million in its oil sale proceeds per month, amounting to almost $5 billion total through June 30, as well as to continue suspending certain sanctions including on petrochemical exports, trade in precious metals and auto parts. Iran and the P5+1 announced Nov. 24 that they would try to reach a political agreement for the final nuclear deal within four months, with the additional three months of the extension to be used to complete drafting of the technical and implementation details.

Among the steps Iran has agreed to take under the seven-month extension, the source briefed by the negotiating teams said:

  • It will turn more of its stocks of 20% oxide into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, taking it off the table in a breakout scenario. Specifically, Iran will convert 35 kg of its remaining approximately 75 kg of 20% oxide into reactor fuel.

  • Iran will provide expanded access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to existing centrifuge production facilities. The IAEA will now double the frequency of its visits to the sites where Iran makes its centrifuges, and do so in the form of "snap inspections," i.e., at times of its choosing.

  • Iran, under the extension, will limit research and development on advanced centrifuges. Specifically, Iran will refrain from pursuing semi-industrial-scale operation of the IR-2M. It will not feed the IR-5 centrifuge with uranium gas. Nor will it pursue gas testing of the IR-6 on a cascade level. It will also not install the IR-8 at the Natanz Pilot Plant, without which Iran cannot move beyond mechanical testing and into gas testing. These commitments ensure that all models of Iran’s advanced centrifuges do not move to the next phase of testing during the next months while negotiators try to reach a final nuclear accord.

  • Iran has also agreed under the terms of the seven-month extension to forego any other forms of enrichment, including laser enrichment. This commitment prevents Iran from developing another potential pathway to material for a weapon.

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Found in: p5+1, nuclear negotiations, iran sanctions, iran nuclear talks

Laura Rozen is Al-Monitor's diplomatic correspondent based in Washington, DC. She has written for Yahoo! News, Politico and Foreign Policy. On Twitter: @LRozen

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