On 14 July, after twenty months of negotiations the United States and Iran came to a deal regarding the nuclear program the Iranian government has been pursuing. The deal was overseen by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, with the inclusion of Germany (P5+1). Iran has been under strict international sanctions in regards to their pursuit of a nuclear program, and with this current deal those restrictions will be lifted with Iran following the strict policies in place. The International Atomic Energy Agency will be providing oversight and inspections of the Iranian nuclear facilities, and should the IAEA determine that Iran has breached the policy agreement international actions will be pursued against the Iranian government.
Here is a brief overview of the primary topics covered in the policy agreed to by Iran and the P5+1:
- The Iranian nuclear program will be restricted to 6,000 centrifuges to be used in their nuclear facilities.
- Uranium can only be enriched to 3.67%. This is important to note that weapon grade uranium is enriched to 90%.
- Iran will be restricted to 300 kg of enriched uranium for use in its nuclear facilities.
- Iran will be limited to three nuclear facilities.
- The IAEA will have direct access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, mines, storage facilities, centrifuge factories, and supply shipments.
- Should Iran breach any section of the agreement international sanctions will be resumed, and further international efforts will be pursued.
With the current deal in place, where does it strategically project Iran and the greater part of the Middle East for the future? Given that Iran now has international recognition for pursuing a nuclear program, the other political power in the region, Saudi Arabia, may pursue similar options. Iran currently has a strategic foothold in Iraq and has deployed elements of its Revolutionary Guard to Syria in support of operations against ISIS. Likewise, it is also currently supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen fighting against the Saudi Arabian led coalition in that region. Hezbollah in Lebanon is a puppet group of the Shiite regime in Iran, and while it has little control over political affairs in Lebanon, it is one of the most recognized political parties of that country.
Most of the policies enacted in the deal will remain in place for a minimum of 10 years. Given the political situation in the Middle East, much can change between now and when the policy is reviewed. As Iran continues to extend its sphere of influence throughout the greater Middle East, its nuclear program will continue to pose a risk to nations that are hostile towards the regime. Israel remains the most significant target of Iranian nuclear attack, given the hostile relationship between the two countries. Should Iranian influence maintain control over Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, opportunities to strike Israel are significantly increased, as are opportunities to target the Sunni regime in Saudi Arabia.