The Obama administration, along with international partners, has reached a deal with the Iranian government to curb Iran's capabilities to develop a nuclear weapon, while granting it the ability to continue with a peaceful nuclear-energy program and lift international economic sanctions.
The text of the deal stretches 159 pages, and is the result of years of intermittent talks. It is already controversial. While the agreement, according to the Obama administration, extends Iran's breakout time to develop a nuclear weapon to a year, it does leave Iran with some nuclear infrastructure. And while the stipulations of the deal will be verified by international inspectors, some congressional Republicans and the prime minister of Israel argue that it's folly to take the word of a regime that has called for the annihilation of the state of Israel. President Obama has pledged to veto any legislation that would seek to thwart the deal.
Details of the plan are highly technical and granular. But here are the biggest-picture points.
1. Reduces Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium.
"Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons," the text of the final agreement reads.
According to Secretary of State John Kerry, "Iran's total stockpile of enriched uranium, which today is equivalent to 12,000 kilograms ... will be capped at just 300 kilograms for the next 15 years."
2. Reduces the number of centrifuges Iran can use in the enrichment of uranium. Some types of centrifuges will be phased out entirely.
"Iran will continue to conduct enrichment R&D in a manner that does not accumulate enriched uranium," the text of the deal reads. Kerry said some of this research and development may include developing cancer medicines from radioactive materials.
3. Increase the "breakout" time to one year for the next decade.
Breakout time, as defined by the White House, is the amount of time it would take for Iran to produce a weapon given its nuclear infrastructure, according to a senior administration official. Currently, according to the Washington Post, the breakout time is a few months.
It takes a lot of time and effort to enrich uranium ore to weapons-grade material. If we set Iranian's production output, and we know how much raw material it is processing, we can calculate the time it would require to amass the critical amount of enriched uranium needed to build a weapon.
4. Reduces sanctions on the Iranian economy.
"The relief from sanctions will only start when Tehran has met their key initial nuclear commitments," Kerry said when announcing the final deal Tuesday morning. White House officials on a briefing call explained that if Iran violates the rules, sanctions can "snap back" into place.
"This [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] will produce the comprehensive lifting of all U.N. Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy," the text of the deal reads.
A lift in sanctions means that Iran will be able to use international banking systems. According to The Wall Street Journal, between $100 billion and $140 billion of Iran's assets have been frozen in international accounts. Lifting sanctions will free that money.
5. Insures ongoing international verification of Iran's agreement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is tasked with monitoring Iran's nuclear facilities for at least the next 25 years.
According to the deal,
These measures include: a long-term IAEA presence in Iran; IAEA monitoring of uranium ore concentrate produced by Iran from all uranium ore concentrate plants for 25 years; containment and surveillance of centrifuge rotors and bellows for 20 years; use of IAEA approved and certified modern technologies including on-line enrichment measurement and electronic seals; and a reliable mechanism to ensure speedy resolution of IAEA access concerns for 15 years.
CORRECTION: This article originally misstated the breakout time for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.