July 23, 2015
In another thrilling segment of “Serious Shit in the World that We’ve Been Actively Ignoring,” today we’re going to try to explain the bare bones of the Iran Nuclear Deal. “Try” is the operative word here because my grand total of zero semesters of poli-sci classes didn’t really prepare me for this moment, and my one friend who understands politics didn’t Snapchat me back.
We’re going to start with the basics, just to make sure everyone is on the same page.
This is Islamic Republic of Iran, formerly known as Persia:
It’s smack dab in the middle of Iraq and Afghanistan, which you may have heard of. Turns out that Iran has a rapidly expanding nuclear program, which they’ve always claimed was created for “peaceful purposes.”
This news makes the rest of the world incredibly uncomfortable, because literally no one wants Iran to have a nuclear weapon (but, like, especially the US and Israel).
UN: Hey, maybe we should address this because we really don’t want another North Korea situation on our hands.
James Franco and Seth Rogen: Yeah, probably a good call.
So, here’s the breakdown of the situation. God, I feel like Stephen Colbert right now.
Who: The five permanent members of the UN Security Council (USA, UK, China, France, and Russia) plus Germany. They’re so cliquey that they won’t even let Germany sit with them, so they’re referred to as P5+1. Ouch.
Where: P5+1 has been meeting with Iran representatives in Lausanne, Switzerland to hash out this deal, because the Swiss are forever neutral and also have dank chocolate. Idk I feel like Swiss chocolate is a great stress snack when discussing the fate of the world or something.
Gist: The main goal of the deal is to get Iran to halt their expanding nuclear program, and in return, we would lift the economic sanctions on them that were declared in 2013. Almost everyone involved agreed this was a solid plan, but the method of going about it was what took up most of their time in the Swiss Alps.
Iran wanted immediate relief from the economic sanctions that royally fucked their economy back in 2013. P5+1 wanted to lift them gradually, as Iran met a series of benchmark requirements to ensure that they wouldn’t just bail on the plan once their economy was booming again.
A centrifuge is a machine that spins super fast and applies centrifugal force to whatever’s inside of it, which causes the contents to separate. Kind of like those awful fucking spinning rides at the fair that cause your stomach to separate from the funnel cake you mistakenly ate before hand, but, you know, with way more science.
When you put Uranium Hexafluoride gas into a centrifuge, you get uranium-235, which is one of the main ingredients in nuclear bombs. Iran has about 20,000 known centrifuges lying around, although not all of them are functioning. Diplomats offered to let Iran run about 6,000 of them. You guessed it—Iran wants more, and P5+1 wants less.
This refers to the period of time after Iran bailed on the deal and how quickly they could make a nuclear weapon. Basically, how much time does the rest of the world have to get their shit together before Iran starts dropping bombs?
Some were confident that there would be a substantial break out time, because the point of the deal is to halt their nuclear program altogether. Others weren’t as sure, because Iran is pretty big and if they really wanted to continue to generate weapon-grade Uranium on the DL, they would probably get away with it. You know, kind of like North Korea did.
P5+1 wanted to be able to show up unannounced at any time in Iran to check up on things. Shocker: Iran wasn’t down for this, which made everyone else even more suspicious. You know how in ABC Family shows there’s always a nosy mom who wants their sullen teenager to keep their door open, and the kid throws a fit about “privacy,” and “deserving trust,” and then slams said door? This is kind of like that, except instead of hiding pot and porn, Iran doesn’t want us finding their Uranium.
On July 14th, after what I’m sure was a lot of fun and not at all tense deliberation, a plan was presented. It is outlined, in it’s entirety, on the White House’s website. Here are the major points:
• Iran must reduce its stockpile of Uranium by 98%, and will keep its level of Uranium enrichment at 3.67%—significantly below the enrichment level needed to create a bomb.
• Reduce number of active centrifuges to 6,104 for the next 10 years.
• Redesign the Arak reactor so that no weapon-grade Plutonium can be produced.
• International inspection at every stage of nuclear production.
The deal is now awaiting a vote in Congress, but Obama has already said that he will use his presidential veto to overturn their decision if they don’t support the plan. They have until September 17th to decide, which means you'll be hearing about this for the rest of summer. At least now you can kind of pretend you understand what's happening. You’re welcome.