Key Points in the Iran Nuclear Deal

WORLD

World powers led by the United States have announced a framework to deal with Iran limiting its nuclear program. So what did they finally agree to? Here are six key points. (CNN)

Use our resources to understand the process, potential, and problems of nuclear energy generation.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources, including a link to today’s MapMaker Interactive map, in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Head of Mission of People's Republic of China to the European Union Hailong Wu, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarifat, an unidentified Russian official, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pose for a photo in Lausanne, Switzerland, following negotiations about the future of Iran's nuclear program. Photograph courtesy U.S. State Department

Head of Mission of People’s Republic of China to the European Union Hailong Wu, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarifat, an unidentified Russian official, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pose for a photo in Lausanne, Switzerland, following negotiations about the future of Iran’s nuclear program.
Photograph courtesy U.S. State Department

Discussion Ideas

  • Negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program have been going on for more than a year. The negotiations have been led by the group known as the “P5+1.” Who are they?

 

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  • What is enriched uranium? How is it different from un-enriched uranium?
    • Enriched uranium has had its percent composition of uranium-235 increased. Uranium-235, or U-235, is a magic isotope for the nuclear power industry. Take a deep breath and let the brainiacs at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission break it down for you:
      • When uranium is mined, it consists of about 99.3% U-238, 0.7% U-235, and less than 0.01% U-234. These are the different isotopes of uranium, which means that while they all contain 92 protons in the atom’s center, or nucleus (which is what makes it uranium), the U-238 atoms contain 146 neutrons, the U-235 atoms contain 143 neutrons, and the U-234 atoms contain only 142 neutrons. (The total number of protons plus neutrons gives the atomic mass of each isotope—that is, 238, 235, or 234, respectively.)
        • The fuel for nuclear reactors has to have a higher concentration of U-235 than exists in natural uranium ore. Normally, the amount of the U-235 isotope is enriched from 0.7% of the uranium mass to about 5%.
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Graphic by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Click to enlarge, or click here to download a PDF version of this terrific illustration.

 

  • The final point in the CNN article concerns Western sanctions against Iran. What are sanctions?
    • Sanctions are penalties or punishments that a nation or international organization imposes on a nation that has violated a rule, law, or procedure.

 

  • What sanctions have been taken against Iran?
    • The United Nations has imposed pretty severe sanctions against Iran, a member state in the organization. For example:
      • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 froze the assets of organizations and individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program, including the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and several electric companies. It also restricted the sale and supply of nuclear-related materials and technology to Iran.
      • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 imposed severe restrictions and even bans on weapons sales to Iran: no arms sales; no financing for military training; no sales of military vehicles; and no sales of military technology. The resolution also banned travel for some individuals involved in Iran’s nuclear program and radically limited Iran’s international financial and banking presence. (It prevented Iranian banks from opening branches in some regions, and prevented most foreign banks from opening branches in Iran.)
    • The European Union has also imposed severe sanctions, including a ban on any transactions with Iranian banks and a ban on the import, purchase and transport of Iranian crude oil and natural gas.
    • More than a dozen individual countries have also imposed sanctions against Iran, based on its development of a nuclear program. For example:
      • The United States has banned all sales of arms to Iran, banned nearly all Iranian imports, and imposed economic sanctions on companies doing business in Iran. (And that’s just for starters.)
      • Canada has banned the sale of all oil-refining equipment, among arms and technology restrictions similar to those imposed by the U.S. and UN.
      • South Korea imposed economic sanctions on companies (including banks) and individuals.

 

  • Why do you think the U.S. has taken a leading role in sanctioning Iran?
    • Politics: Iran and the U.S. have had an adversarial relationship since the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979. Read more about the Iran Hostage Crisis and the Iran Contra Affair (when the U.S. arms embargo against Iran was violated).
    • Economics: The U.S. has a strong domestic fossil-fuel industry and does not rely on Iran for supplies of oil and natural gas. Other nations, such as Japan, do not have natural supplies of these resources and their technological development and economies rely on imports from Iran and other oil-exporting nations.

 

  • What are the purposes of sanctions against Iran?
    • Let the State Department tell you: “These measures are designed: (1) to block the transfer of weapons, components, technology, and dual-use items to Iran’s prohibited nuclear and missile programs; (2) to target select sectors of the Iranian economy relevant to its proliferation activities; and (3) to induce Iran to engage constructively, through discussions with the United States, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Russia in the ‘E3+3 process,’ to fulfill its nonproliferation obligations.” [FYI: E3+3 is the same as P5+1. E3+3  indicates the three European Union countries—France, Germany, UK—plus three others.]

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

CNN: What’s in the Iran nuclear deal? 6 key points

Nat Geo: What is nuclear energy?

Nat Geo: What countries are using nuclear energy for electricity or weapons? map

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Uranium Enrichment

Nat Geo: What is diplomacy?

BBC: Iran nuclear crisis: What are the sanctions?

Council on Foreign Relations: The Lengthening List of Iran Sanctions

2 responses to “Key Points in the Iran Nuclear Deal

  1. Pingback: Conflicts and Cleaner Air in the Middle East | Teach MidEast·

  2. Pingback: Surprising Byproduct of Middle Eastern Conflicts: Cleaner Air | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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