The Iran Nuclear Deal Explained

11th September 2015 By ,   6 Comments

Iran (a Middle East country bordering Iraq and Afghanistan) just struck a deal with the USA and other countries over its use of nuclear power.


How did this all start?

In 2002 it was made public that Iran was working towards creating nuclear power. And that they’d tried to keep it a secret. Naughty Iran.

Nuclear power ditches fossil fuels and uses Uranium to create an energy that produces less greenhouse gases. It’s purpose? Less pollution.


So why all the drama?

Iran Nuclear Deal - A mushroom cloud nuclear explosion


Messing about with Uranium is properly dangerous. If exposed to large amounts you can suffer rashes, kidney failure and the cells in your body  begin to prematurely die.

The most famous nuclear disaster was 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine. A nuclear reactor failed, spilling radioactive material into the environment. The estimate for deaths brought on by the catastrophe is disputed: ranging from 4,000 to half a million.

There’s also no way to dispose of nuclear waste.

And then there’s the security side of things… Uranium can also be used to make nuclear weapons.

Watch-dog organisation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) doesn’t fully trust that Iran’s nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and isn’t just a front to create nuclear weapons.

World powers have been attempting to dissuade Iran away from nuclear power with a series of sanctions including the European Union banning importation of oil from Iran. The EU used to import 20% of Iran’s oil so this was a big step.

Whether it’s right for Iran to have nuclear power is not for us to say – but this debate has created massive tension for years.


Who was involved in the Iran Nuclear Deal?

Waiting for the Iran Nuclear Deal

Waiting for a sign.

Over several sessions Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met representatives from the governments of the United States of America, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

This group is known as P5 + 1Don’t ask us why. They also go by E3/EU+3 Again, this means nothing to us.

For over 18 months the discussions attempted to come up with a solution. In April the group were delayed in reaching an agreement.

A draft of the Iran Nuclear deal was agreed, but there were issues still to be resolved – such as what research into nuclear power Iran would be allowed to undertake and what they would get in return for cutting down their nuclear ambitions.

Finally after several delays a final deal has been agreed. Iran will cut back on its nuclear programme in return for economic restrictions being lifted by other countries. Better late than never, guys.


What’s in the deal?

Iran Nuclear Deal Agreed; Batman vs Superman shake hands


Iran will give up most of its Centrifuges; equipment to make nuclear fuel. They currently have around 20,000 and this will drop to 6,000. Centrifuges can also be used to create a nuclear bomb so cutting down on the numbers makes it harder for Iran to build a nuke.

Uranium will only be enriched to 3.67% – powerful enough for fuel, but not for a nuclear bomb.

Iran will also give up nearly 97% of its nuclear material. This means it would take them much longer to make a nuclear bomb. So if they break the rules it’s more likely they’ll get caught. They get to keep their two battle-protected Nuclear bases but only one will be used to create fuel; the other will become a research facility.

Economic sanctions from the other countries will begin to lift at the end of the year; so long as Iran shows commitment to the deal by autumn. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gets to check nuclear sites, especially those which look dodgy. But with some sites Iran will “manage” the visit – so investigators can’t just turn up unexpectedly.

This historic deal could succeed in stopping Iran from building nuclear bombs. If so it will be remembered as a turning point in history. The leaders of the countries involved all made proud announcements when the deal was signed. The USA especially is keen to emphasise their role in the proceedings. The Iran Nuclear Deal means that some of the politics in the Middle East might start to transform. Iran’s economy, which has been suffering due to the sanctions, could be on the rise, and it has been suggested that they might be able to support the fights against ISIS.


Don’t cheat on the Iran Nuclear Deal;

Iran Nuclear Deal; cat gets trapped

Break the rules and the sanctions will fall back into place real quick

Those sanctions can be put back in place real quick. If member of the P5 + 1 thinks Iran has broken the deal they can list this complaint to a panel of eight countries (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran and the EU) who have 35 days to sort out the issue between themselves.

But if any member disagrees with the ruling of the panel they can send the complaint to the United Nations Security Council. Ooooh.

The UN then has 30 days to decide that sanctions should not be brought back in. They all have to be agreed, otherwise the sanctions automatically “snap back” into existence.

Fool-proof, right?


So that’s it? The world is saved?

Not so fast, hot-shot. The deal still had to be checked and approved by the United States Congress. Things look good though.

Everyone thought the United States House of Representatives (their version of the House of Commons) was where this deal would stop dead.

The Republican party (supported by some congressmen from the Democrat party) put forward a resolution to block the deal. This resolution was blocked, and the deal is likely to pass.

If the House of Representatives had voted to block the deal, then President Obama had the option to veto their decision. This means he would use his presidential power to push the deal through anyway. Obama threatened to veto the resolution even if it made him unpopular. Maybe as he’s leaving next year he doesn’t care what people think, and wanted to score a win for the history books.

If Obama had vetoed the resolution, the deal would pass through to the United States Senate (the US upper house; their version of the House of Lords). Two thirds of the Senate would have to vote against the President’s veto to override it.

In the end Obama didn’t have to use his veto power, as the Democrats rejected the resolution to block the Nuclear Deal. Obama also had enough Senators on his side to protect the deal in Senate. Phew.

The finer details of the deal are now being discussed, but the BBC reports that Obama will be able to lift sanctions on Iran starting next week. Consider that history made.

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Iran Nuclear Deal; pretty important for everyone involved.

Having passed it’s biggest test in United States Congress, things look promising for the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Israel isn’t happy about the deal though. They don’t get on with Iran (partly due to who owns land in the middle east) and their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been slating the deal, stating that the deal is too easy on Iran.

The full text for the Iran Nuclear Deal can be read on the Russian government’s website, according to Buzzfeed.


Is the Iran Nuclear Deal enough to keep Iran on the straight and narrow? Should Iran be allowed any nuclear power at all?

For more on the Iran Nuclear Deal subscribe to our weekly explainer The Week: Decoded, like us on Facebook and follow @scenesofreason


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