Riyadh- Key restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program imposed under an internationally negotiated deal will ease years before the 15-year agreement ends, reinforcing Tehran’s ability to build a bomb before the deadline, according to a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The document is the only part linked to last year’s deal between Iran and six foreign powers that hasn’t been made public. The Associated Press received the document from a diplomat whose work was focused on Iran’s nuclear program for more than a decade, and its authenticity was confirmed by another diplomat who possesses the same document.
The diplomat who shared the document with The AP said that it is as an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal. But while formally separate from that accord, he said that it was in effect an integral part of the deal and had been approved by Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the six powers that negotiated the deal with Tehran.
But while some of the constraints extend for 15 years, documents in the public domain are short on details of what happens with Iran’s most proliferation-prone nuclear activity — its uranium enrichment — beyond the first 10 years of the agreement.
The document obtained by the AP fills in the gap. It says that as of January 2027 — 11 years after the deal was implemented — Iran can start replacing its mainstay centrifuges with thousands of advanced machines.
The deal provides Iran with sanctions relief in exchange for its nuclear constraints. But before going into recess, the U.S. Congress last week approved a bill to impose new sanctions for Tehran’s continuing development and testing of ballistic missiles, a program the White House says is meant to carry atomic warheads even if it is not part of the nuclear agreement.
The White House has said removing the country’s surplus heavy water denies Tehran access to a material that may be stored for potential nuclear weapons production. But critics note that the purchase was made only after Iran exceeded heavy water limits proscribed by the nuclear deal and assert it rewarded Tehran for violating the agreement.
As a first reaction from the Gulf, GCC Assistant Secretary-General for Military Affairs Major General Khalifa Humaid Al Kaabi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Gulf countries will not be reassured regarding the Iranian nuclear program unless they investigate by themselves the possible dangers and ways to deal with them.
Moreover, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the Secretary-General, told the newspaper that no comments can be made on a document that is still confidential.
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that the addendum to the nuclear deal will soon be made public, but he did not elaborate.
“When the complete text of the document is published, it will be clear where we will stand in 15 years,” he said.