By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
For years, the US and its allies have enforced harsh economic sanctions (money restrictions) on Iran for not being open enough about its nuclear technology development. A couple weeks ago, however, Iran met with six nations from the P5+1 group (US, UK, Russia, China, and France, “plus” Germany) for serious discussions about its nuclear program.
Although no deal was reached, it laid the groundwork for a future meeting, which took place this past weekend in Geneva, Switzerland. The latest round of wheeling and dealing was a success, with Iran agreeing to limit its nuclear technology development in exchange for less sanctions until a more formal deal is reached.
Iran will be required to stop strengthening a material called uranium, that can be used to create nuclear bombs. Normally, nuclear power plants use uranium that’s “enriched” (made pure) to 5%, in order to generate electricity. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, require 90% pure uranium, and Iran was going beyond 5% to 20% (which means they weren’t too far off, technologically, from being capable of 90%). Another way to create nuclear bombs is using plutonium, so Iran has also agreed to stop its construction of a facility that could have been used to produce the material.
In order to make sure Iran follows through with its part of the agreement, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be visiting the country daily to keep an eye on progress.
So, what does Iran get? Billions of dollars. If Iran keeps its end of the bargain, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions placed on them and several smaller ones will be lifted. The estimated $7 billion increase in money will only be a fraction of what’s possible if Iran continues cooperating. According to the White House, most of the $100 billion being held back from Iran will still be “restricted by sanctions.” While this isn’t a mega deal that will totally set Iran free and put everyone else at ease about its nuclear technology, the agreement is definitely a historic first step.
Images courtesy of US Department of State on Flickr.