On Thursday, one day late, negotiators announced that they had reached a framework for a more detailed agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that will place strict limits on that country’s ability to refine uranium and plutonium in exchange for the easing of sanctions by the United States and Europe. Vox explains the details and it looks like we got most everything we wanted. Some of the bullet points:
1. Iran has to reduce the number of centrifuges from 20,000 to 6,000 and they can only use the oldest, least efficient first-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium or plutonium (the two substances used in nuclear weapons when very highly enriched, but used for power production at far far lower enrichment levels).
2. They can only refine uranium to 3.67%. It must be enriched to about 90% to make a nuclear weapon, so that’s a serious restriction that ensures that they can only use it for power generation, not weapons.
3. Similar restrictions on the enrichment of plutonium, which they have far less of, so they can’t get anywhere close to being able to use it for a bomb.
4. They have to reduce their stockpile of enriched uranium all the way down to 300 kilograms, from the 10,000 kilograms they currently have. The stockpile they have is nowhere near enriched enough to make a bomb.
5. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have free access to all nuclear facilities and authority to access any “suspicious sites” if they discover any. This includes even their uranium mines and facilities that make centrifuges.
6. The sanctions will be lifted only after all of those conditions are met, not until then.
This is only a framework and there are lots of details to be worked out, like how to dispose of their uranium stockpiles and such. But this is about as good a deal as one could have imagined to restrain the Iranian nuclear program so it can only be used for peaceful energy production, not for weapons. The right wing, of course, is freaking out, but that was inevitable. There was no possible agreement that they would not freak out about, purely for political purposes.
If the agreement was to disband the entire Iranian government and hand over total political control over to the United States, the wingnuts would be arguing that the failure to kill all of the leaders of the country is proof that Obama is in league with them and wants to spread Muslim terrorism to destroy America. Their furious objections have nothing remotely to do with the substance of the agreement.