13 Jul 2015

Iran nuclear talks: how the anticipated deal shapes up

After 12 years of talks, it seems Iran has agreed to scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of UN sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.

Participants at the talks on Iran's nuclear programme in Vienna (Reuters)

So how does the proposed deal stack up?

  • The agreement runs to 80 pages in English and 100 in Farsi plus five technical annexes.
  • After the announcement in Vienna, the US Congress must approve. This could take three months. If they don’t agree, President Obama may use a veto to push the deal through.
  • A UN Security Council resolution will be tabled, allowing for lifting of sanctions against Iran.
  • Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will verify that Iran has limited uranium enrichment and curtail agreed facilities.
  • Sanctions will then be lifted, probably towards the end of the year.
  • The IAEA will continue to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Read more: Why an Iran nuclear deal could have unintented consequences

Getting this far has been a process that has taken over a decade, as Channel 4 News International Editor Lindsey Hilsum explains.

Iran nuclear timeline

2003 Mohammed Khatami, a reformer, is Iranian PM. Negotiations on the country’s nuclear programme begin. (Jack Straw, British FM, takes a lead role. His chief negotiatior is John Sawers, later head of MI6)

2005 Hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is elected President

2006 Iran announces that it has enriched uranium for the first time

2007 UNSC 1747 imposes sanctions against Iran for nuclear programme

2008 UNSC 1803 imposes further sanctions

2009 Rigged elections return hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Vast protests are quashed. Western intelligence services uncover Fordow, a secret enrichment facility dug into the mountains near Qom.

2010 Further UN sanctions are imposed. Several Iranian nuclear scientists are murdered. Suspicion falls on Israel. Stuxnet, a computer virus, is identified as aimed at Iranian nuclear facilities.

2011 More Iranian scientists are killed.

2012 EU imposes oil sanctions. Netanyahu gives UN speech holding crude diagram of an egg timer showing alleged time before Iran has a bomb.

2013 Reformer Hassan Rouhani is elected President. Javad Zarif becomes FM. Talks gain momentum.

2014 Joint plan of action between Iran and P5+1 agreed. Iran suspends uranium enrichment.

2015 March: Netanyahu makes major speech saying deal would enable Iran to get the bomb. April: Framework deal done in Lausanne. July: Deal done in Vienna