The deadline for the Joint Plan of Action ended it seems without a final agreement between the P5+1 and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. It’s not yet clear what happens next.
“There will be some kind of extension,” says Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Dubowitz, with parties reconvening in December to continue to negotiate. "Iran has 'hooked the fish' with Western negotiators so committed to negotiations that they will do whatever it takes to keep everyone at the table."
It’s useful then to see exactly what, for better or worse, has been resolved so far, either during the course of these talks or previously. According to Omri Ceren at the Israel Project, a pro-Israel public affairs organization that focuses on the Middle East, there are several issues on the table, many of which the Obama administration has already caved on.
—Sanctions. The White House is offering upfront sanctions relief that the administration says it can "snapback" if the Iranians fail to comply with their end of the bargain. However, as Dubowitz explained in congressional testimony last week, the idea that it will possible to re-impose sanctions once Iran is opened for business, is politically and economically unrealistic.
—Sunset clause. The Jerusalem Post reported that the administration has offered Iran a 10-year sunset clause, meaning that after ten years, whatever so-called permanent deal is reached comes to an end, constraints go away, and Iran is a normalized nuclear power despite the fact that, for instance, the Islamic Republic is a state sponsor of terror.
“If this is true it’s shocking,” says Dubowitz. “Congress has been talking about many decades, and the administration said 20 years. Iran asked for 3 to 7, 10 would be a significant climb down. And it means that within a decade most of the constraints would disappear and Iran will be well-positioned to develop a massive industrial-size program, which will be much more difficult to monitor, and an easier clandestine breakout route to a bomb."
—Enrichment. The administration gave up on its demands that Iran enrich no uranium at all. The Joint Plan of Action acknowledged Iran’s “right” to enrich which will allow them to close their breakout time by increasing materials to enrich. “Under several presidential administrations,” says Dubowitz, “the United States denied Iran any enrichment and now we’re haggling with them over how much uranium they get to enrich.”
—Centrifuges. The White House abandoned its demands Iran must dismantle its centrifuges. Now they must only disconnect, or unplug, them, which which will allow them to close their breakout time by making sure there is equipment on hand to do the enriching.
The Obama administration also gave up on its demand that there be no research and development of advanced centrifuges, which will allow Iran to close its breakout time by speeding up enrichment with next generation centrifuges.
—Plutonium. The administration gave up on the demand that Iran has to convert the heavy-water reactor at Arak into a light-water reactor, but Iran now refuses to budge, and the administration will instead allow an easily reversible cosmetic quick fix.