Here are basic facts about the proposed Iranian nuclear agreement.
The P5 + 1 group of nations (the USA, UK, France, China and Russia, plus Germany) and Iran have reached a preliminary agreement, in which the United Nations, USA and European Union will lift most economic sanctions against Iran in return for guarantees that Iran will not use its nuclear energy program to develop nuclear weapons.
They hope to reach a final agreement by June 30.
The Iranian government agreed to:
• Reduce the number of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, from 19,000 to about 6,000.
• Reduce the level of enrichment of uranium from 20 percent to 3.67 percent (bomb-grade uranium is enriched to 90 percent)
• Reduce its stockpile of low-level enriched uranium from 10,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms.
• Convert a bomb-proof underground enrichment facility to a research laboratory.
• Open all nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
This will not make Iran incapable of developing a nuclear weapon. Experts say it will extend the lead time required by Iran to develop bomb-grade uranium from six weeks to one year.
Some remaining areas of disagreement are:
• The Iranian government says it expects sanctions lifted before it begins to reduce nuclear capability. President Obama says he expects Iran to start complying with the agreement before sanctions are lifted.
• President Obama was Iran to allow inspections of its military facilities as well as its nuclear facilities. The Iranian government refuses.
The effect of the agreement would be to change the balance of power in the Middle East. This is a main reason why leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia are worried about the agreement.
It would enable Iran to exert its full national strength in Middle East geo-politics. It will be better able to support its allies, including Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah and Shiite militias in different countries. Israel prioritizes its struggle with Hezbollah, and Saudi Arabia priorities its struggles against the Shiites.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, along with his supporters in the U.S. Congress, thinks the USA should insist that Iran give up enrichment of nuclear fuel altogether, and that it also grant diplomatic recognition to Israel.