Done Deal: Iran to Suspend Nuclear Program, Roll Back Weaponization

Susan Walsh/AP

AA Font size + Print

In a stunning agreement with Western powers, Iran will virtually halt its nuclear program for six months. By Kevin Baron

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Iran has bowed to international demands and agreed to halt its nuclear program in a sweeping six-month deal with Western powers that observers are calling a major diplomatic victory for the Obama administration.

President Barack Obama, in a televised statement from the White House late Saturday night, called the deal out of Geneva an “important first step toward a comprehensive solution.”

“These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon,” said the president.

According to the White House, Iran has agreed to halt any enrichment of its uranium stockpiles above 5 percent and to “neutralize” its current stockpiles of uranium already near 20 percent enrichment to back below 5 percent. Iran also will dismantle its ability to enrich above that level.

The agreement requires daily access by United Nations inspectors at Iran’s Natanz and Fordow enrichment sites, while significantly rolling back Iran’s current enrichment capabilities. Iran also agreed not to start new centrifuges and not to proceed with further activity at its Arak plutonium enrichment site.

“In return for these steps, the P5+1 is to provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture.  If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the relief,” a White House statement said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was informed of the nuclear deal earlier in the evening, Defense One learned.

“This is an extremely important first step that sets the conditions for a resolution that will be in both our interests,” said a U.S. official, who spoke to Defense One on condition of anonymity moments after the president’s speech.  “We’re very clear-eyed in approaching it.”

“The six months will allow us time to make sure Iran doesn’t advance its nuclear capability. It also gives us the time and space to work something that is more permanent,” said the official.“We are in a better place now than we were without a deal. Iran has agreed not to advance further in its program, and this is a first step to take us to something more lasting. It’s just a first step.”

The news brought the Saturday night reception of the high-level Halifax International Security Forum to a halt. The conference hotel filled with Obama administration officials, members of Congress and foreign military dignitaries froze to watch Obama’s White House statement on live television. Some delegates associated with the administration already had popped champagne and applauded Obama’s speech, while others said the temporary deal did nothing to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons goals.

“Despite what conservatives say, this deal is unquestionably better than no deal,” said Mieke Eoyang, director of national security at the Third Way and a former House intelligence committee staffer.

“This is a vindication of both a campaign promise and people arguing within the administration that a deal was possible,” said Heather Hurlburt, senior advisor at the National Security Network and a former speechwriter for President Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Randy Scheunemann, president of Orion Strategies and former foreign policy adviser to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, who attended the Halifax conference, harshly criticized the deal. “The point is to end the fuel cycle. The point is to end the nuclear program. The point is just when sanctions are starting to begin you don’t give them relief when they have a history of using negotiations to buy time.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “has said if they can reach three and a half percent [enrichment] they can get nuclear weapons,” Scheunemann said. “This lets them get to three and a half percent. At the end of six months, if they want to walk they give up nothing but six months and gain $6-7 billion.”

“They can’t take yes for an answer,” Eoyang retorted.

Obama, in his statement, said the deal places the onus on Iran to live up to its end of the bargain. “The burden is on Iran to prove to the world its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes,” he said.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.