Bowing to intolerable sanctions and economic warfare from the US, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment to only 5% (over 80% is needed to make a nuclear weapon). This low level is sufficiently only for power generation. Iran is to stop enriching to 20%, the level needed for medical isotopes.
Iran further agreed to halt construction of its Arak heavy water reactor that could eventually produce plutonium, a key nuclear weapons fuel. Tehran agreed not to build any new nuclear facilities, including next generation centrifuges, and grant daily access to UN nuclear inspectors at its top-secret Nantaz and Fordow plants. It will provide design plans for its Arak reactor.
In short, Iran freezes its modest nuclear program to the point where it can only be used for civilian energy purposes.
For these major concessions, Iran will be paid $7 billion – of its own money, which has been frozen abroad by US-led sanctions. Some sanctions will be slightly eased. Iran will regain access to some of its gold and cash held abroad. But most of its $ 100 billion in assets frozen abroad will remain blocked. Tehran will be able to sell modest amounts of oil at current restricted levels, and fund some Iranian students abroad. Big deal.
Iran will be finally allowed to buy some parts for its dilapidated civilian airliners that have become flying coffins because of sanctions. But, apparently, not new western aircraft.
The Geneva accord will last for 6 months, then be reviewed.
Given all the American and Israeli talk of war against Iran, it represents something of a triumph for US, Russian, EU and Chinese diplomacy.
As the great Israeli writer Uri Avnery observed, the US Congress would jump to repeal the Ten Commandments if so ordered by Israel.
Comment: I was too optimistic in my previous evaluation of this deal; it is less damaging to the status quo than I had hoped it would be.
Previously, I had observed Israel’s officials caterwauling and assumed that they were actually losing something of value. Now I realize that they are simply psychopaths who need to dramatize and act out their inner problems in public. Israel hasn’t actually lost anything by this deal; they just need to kick up a fuss for the sake of kicking up a fuss.
The real question is – what will the Shanghai Cooperation Organization do with this new diplomatic opportunity? Will Russia and China expand their trade with Iran? It is tempting to imagine a South Silk Road running from Beijing to Tehran and a North Silk Road running from Beijing to Moscow.