How Iran's Research Reactors Prove the Nuclear Deal Is Still Working

August 11, 2021

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Author: 

Samuel M. Hickey

Publication: 

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

An underexamined success story from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiations is the effective blocking of Tehran’s ability to collect plutonium for a nuclear bomb. Not only has the nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), been effective in constraining Iran’s program, but it could, suitably adapted, provide a standard of guidance for research reactor construction that would lower proliferation risks worldwide.

There are two pathways to get the fissile material to fuel a nuclear bomb. The first is to enrich uranium, and the second is to recover plutonium from the spent fuel of a reactor. The JCPOA blocked both pathways. Now, Iran’s advancing enrichment program is the key obstacle for diplomats trying to revive the deal, and those talks have dragged on for months as the program marches forward.

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Read the rest of the analysis at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.