Beginning formally in 2013, nations of the P5+1 (the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, plus Germany) and the European Union engaged in diplomatic negotiations with Iran to address the international community’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.
On July 14, 2015, after two years of negotiations, the P5+1 and the European Union announced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Under the agreement, known as the Iran nuclear deal, Iran significantly reduced its nuclear program and accepted strict monitoring and verification safeguards to ensure its program is solely for peaceful purposes. In exchange, Iran received economic sanctions relief from nuclear-related sanctions (all other sanctions remained in place), but only after the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) verified that Iran had completed its initial requirements under the agreement.
In May 2018, former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the JCPOA without cause and re-imposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. Up until May 2019, a full year after the United States withdrew from the deal, the IAEA routinely verified that Iran was in full compliance under the JCPOA. After that, Iran began incrementally stepping back from compliance with the deal while the other parties to the agreement have remained committed to its implementation. Since the United States abrogated the deal and Iran in turn stopped honoring some of its commitments, Iran has reduced its breakout time — the amount of time it would take to accumulate enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon — from more than a year to about 3-4 months, although the IAEA remains on the ground to verify the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation works within a broad coalition of organizations to support this diplomatic non-proliferation effort. Our experts recommend that the United States returns to compliance with the JCPOA as it is the only responsible pathway to verifiably constrain Iran’s nuclear program.
Recent Analysis on Iran
- Breaking down Iran’s nuclear diplomacy strategy February 11, 2021
- Why the United States Should Reenter the JCPOA February 9, 2021
- Biden faces early foreign policy test as Iran accelerates nuclear program December 18, 2020
- Iran to increase nuclear production, prohibit inspectors from US if sanctions not lifted: reports December 4, 2020
- Op-Ed: How the Arms Trade Treaty has influenced the US-China diplomatic chessboard August 31, 2020
- Trump’s Iran policy is rejected but the political battle wages on August 26, 2020
- The Final Test of Trump’s Iran Policy August 12, 2020
- How Iran’s missile arsenal holds the Middle East hostage July 17, 2020
- Khojir and Natanz explosions wreck Iran’s strategy of deception July 5, 2020
- The IAEA’s nuclear reports on Iran are its harshest rebuke yet June 16, 2020