With only ten days until the Nov. 24 deadline to finalize a nuclear agreement, top negotiators are once again hard at work to bridge the gaps that remain between the P5+1 and Iran.
Not coincidentally, the November 24 deadline is also an important anniversary for the P5+1 and Iran: a year ago to the day, the parties inked a short-term, interim nuclear deal in Geneva to begin to scale back Iran’s nuclear program and to provide limited sanctions relief in exchange. The interim deal, the Joint Plan of Action, was then extended in July upon an agreement to continue negotiations toward a final deal.
Looking back one year later, Iran has aced every test the JPA threw its way, but Iran’s compliance and initial progress is too often muted in the din of skeptics who question Iran’s commitment toward a long-term and final deal that blocks its path to a bomb. To the contrary, Iran has fulfilled its obligations under the interim deal, scaling back its stockpiles of nuclear material, freezing its numbers of centrifuges (the mechanisms needed to produce nuclear material), and halting work on its nuclear facilities. Iran has also allowed full and daily access to the U.N. nuclear watch dog agency, the IAEA, for monitoring and verification. And for extra credit, Iran has even opted to pursue a separate diplomatic track with the IAEA–which lies outside of its obligations under the JPA–and to commit to answering its questions (although issues are outstanding).
Iran may have a 4.0 GPA as we roll toward the end of the semester, but we can’t forget about the make-or-break final exam: the U.S. is hoping for a comprehensive, long-term deal that will not only continue along this path of progress, but that will impose additional measures to fully prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
Here’s hoping that Iran and the P5+1 can pass the final exam this time, and that they won’t have to retake the class once again. Neither parties have spoken favorably about another extension, and this time around, the eagerness on both sides to ink a final deal is palpable. The time is now to pass with flying colors and block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.