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Here’s What the Iran Deal Is All About, in Plain English


Secretary Kerry Poses for a Group Photo With E.U., P5+1 and Iranian Officials Before Final Plenary of Iran Nuclear Negotiations in Austria (United States Government Work / Flickr)

There was a deal reached with Iran! Wait, what?

World powers and the United States made an agreement with Iran on its nuclear operations. Many see it as like making a deal with our global bully, and no one wants their bully to have a nuclear bomb.

But, what does this mean? Should we be happy about this? Let's take a look at the deal that was signed, sealed and delivered:

What's the deal

Six countries and the United States worked on this final agreement with Iran for 20 months. No lie, 20 months.

The group working with Iran is called the P5+1, which includes UN Security Council members--America, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany--and the European Union. Secretary of State John Kerry has been at all of the meetings for the United States.

Today ends a long set of talks with Iran about its nuclear program. Let's look at it:

  • Iran cannot acquire or create nuclear weapons.
  • Iran must cut its uranium stockpile by 98%.
  • Iran has to slim down its number of centrifuges from nearly 20,000 to 6,104 for the next ten years. (A centrifuge is a high-speed spinning machine thing that can be used to produce uranium.)
  • Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will be able to look at the entire Iranian nuclear program at any time.
  • Inspectors can watch Iran's work at its nuclear plants--or anywhere they deem suspicious. (This may include locations where people think Iran is trying to work secretly.)
  • US, United Nations and European Union sanctions against Iran will be lifted. (Sanctions are penalties against a country.)
  • The arms embargo against Iran will still stay in place.
  • The sanctions will "snap back" into place if Iran violates the deal and starts making a weapon.

With all of these points agreed upon, there are worries of Iran possibly running away from the deal in the next 15 years.

If Iran wants to violate the deal and race to make a weapon, their "breakout time" to make one will increase from about two to three months to a year. So, it's now harder for them to make a bomb.

Why is this important?

Basically, the world's security was under threat, and tensions in American-Iranian ties have lasted for decades.

If you've seen the movie Argo you should know a bit about the 1979 hostage crisis involving American hostages in Iran's capital. That's when relations between the US and Iran got really rocky.

America is known for being somewhat responsible for bringing Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power in Iran right before the revolution.

Then the Islamic Revolution in 1979 threw international relations into chaos. Religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini led the revo and got into power ... and from then on, we weren't on good terms so much anymore.

Iran's nuclear program started in 2002 and both sanctions and threats were thrown at them from all sides of the globe. It was only recently, when current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won the election in 2013, that attempts at nuclear talks were successful.

It has been a long time coming for Iran and the world. Iran can now breathe a little easier after coming out from under the weight of all those international sanctions, and the world can rest knowing that the country won't have a nuclear bomb.

Who likes the deal?

President Obama is down with it.

"Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon."

And POTUS wants Congress to be on board. Obama says he'll veto any Congressional vote to not support the nuclear deal.

"I am confident that this deal will meet the national security interests of the United States and our allies."

Iran's President Rouhani addressed the nation early this morning and shared his excitement on the deal.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton endorsed the Iran deal. It's big coming from her as she had a part along the way as a US Secretary of State.

And presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also chimed in with a tweet.

Who doesn't like the deal?

Well, Israel isn't too happy about the news. Prime Minister Netanyahu says it is a "historic mistake" for the world.

(Iranian-Israeli relations are another story. They haven't been on good terms for years, due to issues with the Palestinian territories, regional wars, security and more.)

And American Republican presidential candidates have a lot to say. Many went on television or tweeted to share their thoughts.

Some GOP candidates said they'd kill the deal if they were elected president.

What now?

Congress has 60 days to review and debate the agreement. Obama says he'll veto any move to block the Iran deal.

And the United Nations Security Council also has to approve it by passing a resolution supporting the deal. That should happen within the next two weeks.

Although the next two months will be dramatic in American politics, Iran won't have its sanctions lifted until next year. The sanctions will kick in when it is verified that Iran has complied.

It took a long time to get here. It'll be a long ride for the next steps.

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Here’s What the Iran Deal Is All About, in Plain English

Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a freelance international news reporter, having contributed to The Atlantic online and Mic. He's worked at CNNMoney, the New York Daily News, and Voice of America. Patrick loves tweeting, reading, and grabbing coffee in either New York or Washington D.C. Tweet anything on politics or world conflict to him! Follow: @patrickdehahn.

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