In the context of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program, January 16, 2016 was “Implementation Day.” The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran had completed all of the steps outlined in the deal, which means that sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear activities will be temporarily lifted or waived. However, U.S. sanctions relating to Iran’s support of terrorist activity; human rights abuses; destabilizing intervention in regional hot spots like Syria and Yemen; and development of ballistic missile technology and conventional weapons will remain in place.
To gain sanctions relief, Iran had to:
- Reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by about 98 percent (25,000 pounds)
- Dismantle and remove two-thirds of its centrifuges (leaving a total of 5,060 centrifuges)
- Remove the core of its heavy water reactor at Arak (Iran’s source of plutonium production)
In related news, a prisoner swap took place that freed four Americans imprisoned in Iran in exchange for the United States pardoning or dropping charges for seven Iranians accused or convicted of sanctions violations. A fifth American was released in a separate deal, but Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since 2007, was not part of the exchange.
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