Joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) also known as the Iran nuclear deal is an agreement on the nuclear activity in Iran. The nuclear deal agreement took more than 20 months to be formulated and implemented. Iran has suffered a total trade embargo in the past few years, Oil is their main export but it has been limited. These led to the value of Rial to plummet and resulted in a huge escalation in the price of essential commodities. This agreement was necessary because Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which states that no other country except US, UK, Russia, France and China can possess nuclear weapons.
It was adopted on 18 October 2015 and was implemented on 16 January 2016. It is an agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of UN (China, France, Russia, United States and United Kingdom) along with Germany and the European Union. On May 8th 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement.
This agreement was formulated to keep a tab on the nuclear activity of Iran which will be monitored by International atomic energy agency (IAEA). The deal has been submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for endorsement. Before 2015, Tehran has developed a range of technologies including uranium enrichment, warhead design and delivery system that would boost its nuclear program. This deal has to be now implemented for the next 10-15 years by Iran which gets sanctions from the P5+1 countries.
In 2003, Iran permitted IAEA to visit Kalaya electric company but refused to share samples. IAEA report concluded that Iran refused to meet the obligations under the agreement. Under the threat of referral, Iran agrees to the Tehran declaration with EU-3 and suspended uranium enrichment. But this agreement fell apart in 2005 when the President Ahmadinejid stated that Iran has the right to nuclear power. In 2006, Iran resumed Uranium enrichment and stated that the nuclear program was for energy and not weapons. The P5+1 was formed in 2006 and the final agreement was implemented after 10 years in 2016.
The P5+1 and allies with Iran during the agreement if the Iran nuclear deal.
After the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, the following steps have been taken by Iran,
First generation centrifuges are capped at 6104 for 10 years. These centrifuges help in the enrichment of Uranium. For the next 15 years, Uranium will be enriched only up to 3.67% for civilian nuclear program.
All the advanced centrifuges are destroyed. The total number of centrifuges is reduced to one-third of the initial number. Research and development on centrifuges are constrained. The two thirds of the centrifuges will be placed in storage for the duration of the agreement and only 5060 of them would be allowed to enrich uranium. They have to be first generation centrifuges (IR - 1) which are the oldest and least efficient. The non-functioning centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and are to be monitored by IAEA.
Stockpile of low enriched uranium is reduced to 300 kg from 7154 kg (around 97%), whereas medium enriched uranium was completely obliterated. The previous enriched uranium will be blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium. The contracts for Uranium will be monitored by P5+1.
The research and development of Uranium enrichment can be carried out only in Natanz under certain limitations.
The Arak heavy water research reactor will be designed in such a way that it decreases the the production of plutonium. All spent fuel will be exported and all the remaining heavy water will be sold in the international market. Iran will not build any other heavy water research reactor for the next 15 years.
The Fordow facility will stop uranium enrichment and will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology centre.
Apart from all these restrictions over the nuclear program, the IAEA inspectors will have complete access to the nuclear facilities in Fordow and Nantaz. They will monitor the entire nuclear program from uranium mills to nuclear technology. The number of inspectors will be increased and in case of suspicions about the nuclear activity, the inspectors are given access to the nuclear facilities. In the case of noncompliance with the agreement, the joint commission holds the authority to take required action.
Iran will be granted with sanctions from EU and UN in return for abiding by the agreement. The sanctions against Iran will be lifted and it will be allowed access to its assets in offshore frozen accounts. After 15 years, the treaty will cease to be applicable.
On 13th October 2017, United States announced that it will not make the certification but did not terminate the deal. On 30th April, United states and Israel stated that Iran did not disclose a covert nuclear program and on 8th May 2018, US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal agreement even after verification from IAEA that Iran held up to its agreement, which resulted in jeopardy of the agreement.