Historic deal limits Iran’s nuclear program

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

nuclear deal
Diplomats take a group photo after striking the Iran nuclear deal.

A groundbreaking nuclear deal has been reached between world powers and Iran, lifting economic sanctions (restrictions) in exchange for limiting their ability to make nukes.

Since 1979, the USA and its allies have been concerned that Iran was developing nuclear power to make weapons, rather than just to create energy like electricity and heat.

For decades, the leaders of the two nations didn’t talk to one another, and the USA coordinated international trade restrictions on Iran, which crippled their ability to make money or progress scientifically.

After a historic phone call between President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last September, nuclear talks began with a USA-led effort that included Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.

Nuclear power is made possible by a process called nuclear fission, where the center of a tiny particle, called the nucleus, is split into smaller parts, releasing massive amounts of energy. In order to generate nuclear power, whether for military or energy purposes, a silvery-white metallic substance called uranium needs to be enriched, meaning it’s made more powerful through chemical processes.

Regular nuclear power plants just need uranium that’s enriched to 5% in order to generate electricity, while nuclear weapons require 90% pure uranium. Because Iran was developing 5-20% enriched uranium, which is beyond what’s needed for peaceful energy purposes, the international community was worried they wanted to create weapons.

Over the past few months, diplomats have negotiated with Iran to cap their uranium enrichment, limit research and development of new nuclear equipment, and allow more in-depth United Nations inspections of their facilities. If Iran honors their side of the agreement, then economic sanctions will be lifted over time.

Image of diplomats courtesy of USA Department of State on Flickr.