Iran, Nukes, and the End of the World: Stats

By Kersley Fitzgerald

  • 1987: Iran gets information on casting uranium.
  • 1989: North Korea aids building of nuclear facilities.
  • 1990: China agrees to train Iranian nuclear engineers
  • 1994: China's nuclear research reactor in Iran comes online.
  • Mid-1990s: the "father of Pakistan's nuclear program" agrees to help Iran.
  • 1995: Iran contracts Russia to finish the nuclear power plant Germans had started in 1975.
  • 2002: discovered that Iran has two secret nuclear facilities, one to enrich uranium and another for plutonium which is only used in weapons.
  • 2003: CIA formally admits Iran is working on a secret weapons program disguised as an energy plant.
  • 2004: Iran admits they're farther along and have more sophisticated equipment than previously revealed.
  • 2004: Iran alternates between denying they are enriching uranium and bragging about the uranium they've enriched.
  • 2005: Ahmadinejad threatens the UN General Assembly that Iran can provide other Islamic countries with know-how about nuclear weapons.
  • 2006: Khamenei repeats Ahmadinejad's threat.
  • 2007: Russia refuses to provide fuel unless Iran agrees to stop working on uranium enrichment; fuel ships a few months later after a US intel report saying Iran had stopped in 2003.
  • 2007: EU document states Iran will eventually have a nuclear weapon, and the reason they don't already is more due to technical issues than political pressure.
  • 2009: discovered Iran had a second plant for enriching uranium.
  • 2009: Khamenei states Iran should have nukes as a deterrent against attack — and because they're afraid Saddam Hussein has them.
  • 2010: CIA reveals Iran had enriched enough uranium for two weapons; Obama enacts more sanctions.
  • 2010: Computer worm Stuxnet destroys upwards of 1000 centrifuges.
  • 2011: Iran's Russian-made nuclear power plant comes online.
  • 2012: Iran and South Korea agree to work on nuclear science together.
  • 2012: Indications suggest Iran is on its way to building a bomb but no concrete evidence.
  • 2013: Iran opens two more uranium mines; US grows concerned about the plutonium reactor.
  • 2013: P5+1* and Iran reach temporary agreement; Iran will sharply curtail nuclear enrichment programs and sanctions on gold, oil, and cars will be suspended.
  • 2014: January; new agreement takes effect; after six months of apparent compliance, the agreement is continued for another four months.
  • 2014: Iran unofficially offers to help fight ISIS in Iraq if all nuclear sanctions lifted.
  • 2014: Iran opens plant that converts weapons-grade uranium into fuel-only uranium.
  • 2014: August; Iran apparently unwilling to allow transparency regarding nuclear program; stops cooperating altogether.
  • 2014: Iran refuses to allow UN inspection on Parchin nuclear base because the inspections completed before 2005 showed no weaponized material; Parchin was not listed in the agreement.
  • 2014: Deal not reached; temporary agreement extended to June (framework to be set by March and deal to be complete by end of June); Iran can access $700 million/month in frozen assets; Israel glad that more time will be taken to make the deal right and hopeful the US will increase sanctions after Iran blows it again
  • 2015: January; Obama warns Republican House against making new sanctions and destroying diplomatic work already accomplished; Congress agrees, but Senate approves Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 which says if the agreement is not made by June, original sanctions will be put back up.
  • 2015: February; House Speaker John Boehner invites Israel PM Netanyahu to speak to Congress after Obama refuses to meet him (citing it's too close to the Israel election); many Democrats refuse to attend Netanyahu's speech.
  • 2015: February: IAEA inspectors say Iran still hasn't fulfilled transparency requirements that were due the previous August.
  • 2015: Amidst noise that an agreement is imminent, 47 Republicans send a letter to Iran saying any agreement without Congressional approval is merely an executive agreement and can be withdrawn by the next president. Neither Obama nor Biden appreciate the interference. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif offers to mediate talks between Congress and Obama.
  • 2015: P5+1 and Iran set out to make a second UN Security Council resolution that will be binding and not dependent on the US president or Congress.
  • 2015: March; Iranian officials try to change some key elements to their favor. Congress pushes back that they should have final authority.
  • 2015: March; US realizes Israeli spies probably got confidential information about the talks and fed it to Republicans; considering the US equipped Israelis to spy on Iran, no one is surprised.
  • 2015: March; a week out from the deadline and Iran has only answered one inquiry about their potential nuclear weapons program.
  • 2015: March; as deadline looms, Iran realizes it has US on the ropes as Kerry can't go back to US with nothing to show Congress and Iran has all the time in the world.
  • 2015: April; framework agreed upon; Israel has a fit; Ayatollah Khamenei calls framework non-binding and US's version false; Iranian Pres Hassan Rouhani insists Iran won't sign deal unless all sanctions lifted the first day; US says, no, lifting will be phased; Russia says they will be instant, but which sanctions to be raised is still undetermined. (See US and Iranian versions of the framework below.)
  • 2015: April; Iranian Defense Ministry rejects the idea of foreign inspectors at their nuclear facilities.
  • 2015: April; Putin lifts ban, allowing sale to Iran of anti-missile system; also signs oil-for-goods agreement. After being pressured, Russia says delivery won't occur until after deal is signed.
  • 2015: April; US Defense Secretary suggests using a bunker-buster to make sure Iran's secret underground facilities abides by agreement; Obama agrees to let Congress review accord.
  • 2015: April; revealed that China had helped build nuclear power plants in Iran.
  • 2015: April; revealed that the US built a mock-up of Iran's underground nuclear facilities in Tennessee to better understand their capability.
  • 2015: May; Congress passes Corker-Menendez Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
  • 2015: May; US mollifies Israel with more weapons; Saudi Arabia promised 10 Seahawk helicopters.
  • 2015: May; IAEA report says Iran still hasn't answered if nuclear scientists worked on weapons. North Korea takes tour of the Iranian nuclear sites IAEA were not allowed in.
  • 2015: May; IAEA also reports Iran stockpile of fuel has increased 20% in last 18 months, which isn't against the agreement; other parts of the agreement seemed to be fulfilled.
  • 2015: May; despite Russia's objections, P5+1 agree to sanctions being instantly resumed if Iran is found "cheating."
  • 2015: June; revealed that Iran had continued work on nuclear weaponry technology; the Institute for Science and International Security reports Iran had produced four tons of enriched uranium since January 2014 and converted only 5% into uranium oxide which cannot be weaponized.
  • 2015: June; both the UN Committee on Iran Sanctions and the US Government Accountability Office start to wonder why none of the P5+1 nations have reported on Iran's agreement failings.
  • 2015: June; Iran's parliament passes bill banning foreign inspectors. Khamenei rejects terms of the P5+1 outline.
  • 2015: July 14; only two weeks late, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is signed.
  • 2015: July 20; agreement is approved by UN Security Council, making Congressional push-back significantly harder; agreement is release of seven Security Council sanctions in return for compliance; also includes snap-back plan if Iran cheats.
  • 2015: July; Obama gives the deal to Congress to discuss for 60 days; various US military commanders and foreign countries' representatives meet with Congress members, lobbying for their side.
  • 2015: July 22; Senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi dismisses the weapons embargo that was just signed; declares Iran doesn't have to submit to inspections at nuclear facilities.
  • 2015: August; Kerry clarifies that a snap-back will not go into effect if Iran breaks the arms embargo or violates the agreement on their missile program.
  • 2015: August; IAEA Director-General reports that inspectors are still kept from scientists and military officers, expresses doubt over inspection ability.
  • 2015: August; IAEA reaches agreement outside of JCPOA regarding inspections; Iran can use its own inspectors to check sites and report to IAEA.
  • 2015: September; Democrats block a full-on rejection of the JCPOA, which Obama had promised to veto anyway. Congress is still analyzing the JCPOA and figuring out responsive legislation; legislation would include modernized sanction policy, support for Israel, inspection compliance.
  • 2015: Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Mike Huckabee promise to abandon the accord if elected president.
* P5+1 is the five permanent members of the UN security council (US, Russia, UK, France, China) plus Germany; they are the representatives of the UN charged with developing an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear weapon capability.

Framework as per US
  • Remove and store 2/3 of centrifuges — only 6104 active out of 19,000
  • Not enrich uranium more than 3.67% for 15 years
  • Reduce current 3.67% uranium stockpile from 10,000 kg to 300 kg over next 15 years
  • Build no new enrichment facilities for 15 years
  • Sanctions and oil embargo will be lifted in as little as six months with compliance; including release of $100 billion of currently frozen assets
  • Inspectors will be allowed to monitor plants and facilities for safe practices
  • Embargo continues for five years; restrictions for eight; embargo (including of arms) could be lifted early if Iran proves it's not developing nuclear weapons and/or if a particular sale is cleared with the UN Security Council.
Framework as per Iran
  • Everything is 5 years, not 15.
  • 10,000 centrifuges to remain, remainder at facility and not in storage
  • All sanctions immediately lifted
Finalized JCPOA
  • Reduce stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98%
  • Shut down and store 2/3 of centrifuges at Natanz
  • Not produce or acquire highly enriched uranium or plutonium for at least 15 years
  • Missile restrictions for 8 years; UN Arms Embargo ban on conventional weapons for 5 years; time off for good behavior
  • "Road map" in place to further discuss future nuclear program
  • Fordow enrichment plant converted to research center; Arak heavy water plant redesigned to preclude weapons-grade plutonium production
  • Iran must allow inspectors access to suspicious sites within 24 days of request or sanctions can be snapped back; depending on provision, in place for 20-25 years or permanently
  • $100-$150 billion dollars released with compliance
Possible Consequences
  • Iran would have more liquid assets — how would they use the money?
  • Sanctions against foreign military equipment will be lifted; Russia and China can help Iran rebuild its air force.
  • Could also equip foreign interests like the Hezbollah.
  • Because Iran is anti-IS, there may be felt pressure to remove arms embargos early.
  • Although 2/3 of the centrifuges would be removed and stored, evidence shows that when centrifuges are destroyed, Iran is able to quickly replace them.
  • It's thought that although other, smaller work could be hidden in 24 days, construction of a new facility or work with nuclear materials could not.

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Published 9-24-15