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The Impact of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Fact-Checking the Fact Checkers

Squadrons of fact-checking journalists have been deployed by news organizations over the past several months trying to provide some perspective on claims about key campaign issues, including the 2015 nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran that the Barack Obama administration and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton have claimed credit for and that the Trump-Pence campaign has criticized. Their effort to clarify the facts about these and other issues is vital to ensuring we have a more informed electorate. But sometimes the fact-checkers themselves – perhaps in their rush to provide...

Looking Back: Compliance Versus Bargaining - An Implication of the Iran Nuclear Deal

October 2016

By George Perkovich

The Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), passes a milestone this month, which invites thinking about some of the agreement’s implications. One year ago, October 18, 2015, was “adoption day,”1 the date on which the accord came into effect and participants began taking steps necessary to implement their commitments.

Among other things, the negotiations that produced the agreement showed a dynamic that may affect how states approach future proliferation conflicts and the potential for resolving them diplomatically. The issue is whether a proliferation dispute is framed as a matter of compliance with rules or as a matter of bargaining for a fair deal instead. Compliance and fair bargaining need not be mutually exclusive concepts and processes. If rules are fair, enforcing compliance with them can be fair too. In international politics, however, all states do not necessarily perceive all rules to be fair, nor do states always agree on the fairness of proposed ways of enforcing compliance with rules.

Iranians show support for Iran’s nuclear activities at a demonstration outside the Tehran Research Reactor on November 23, 2014. Under the nuclear accord, Iran agreed to slightly irradiate fuel plates, before reactor use, to prevent later processing to make highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. (Photo credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and, perhaps, Russia and China saw the Iran case primarily as a compliance problem. Iran broke the rules of the nonproliferation regime, specifically International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and disclosure requirements. The IAEA and subsequently the UN Security Council issued binding requirements of transparency and confidence building, including a demand that Iran “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.”2 Iran was not meeting these requirements. Thus, the international community continued to pressure Iran with sanctions until it complied.

Iran could not effectively dismiss the concept of compliance, but Iranian officials sought to portray the dispute as a matter of fairness or justice. They said Iran had no choice but to conduct illicit nuclear activities because the United States and Israel were illegally sabotaging Iran’s declared activities. They insisted that all countries have a “right” to enrich uranium3 and the United States and its allies were engaged in neocolonial nuclear repression. Iran also argued that the nuclear-weapon states had failed to live up to their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to eliminate nuclear arsenals and that they frequently exhibited double standards in choosing when, where, and how to apply nonproliferation rules. 

The six countries negotiating with Iran, known as the P5+1, were correct that compliance was and is at the heart of the diplomatic struggle with Iran. Civilization and international security are advanced by the creation and enforcement of rules to regulate technologies and activities that can threaten peace and security. The NPT is the foundation of a rules-based global nuclear order. Therefore, it is vital to enforce compliance with rules derived from the NPT. 

Yet, the international system generally lacks judicial and enforcement mechanisms that are as legitimate and effective as those in well-governed states. The IAEA admirably performs some important functions in the rules-based system, but it does not have clear enforcement authority. The actions of the IAEA Board of Governors can be subject to the exertions of major powers and resistance by dissident states for reasons that are germane and meritorious or not. The UN Security Council is the entity that is expected to mobilize international power in response to violations of NPT-related rules when the IAEA reports violations to it. The Security Council has the authority to enforce mandates regarding international peace and security. Enforcement most commonly takes the form of political demands and sanctions. Military action can be the ultimate means of enforcing rules, and in the international system, the Security Council is supposed to be the authorizer of legitimate uses of force. Yet, the council is a highly politicized body, and the five permanent, veto-wielding members enjoy disproportionate influence within it. As a result, the council is often inefficient or less than just in catalyzing or withholding international action, particularly the use of force. 

In sum and hardly shocking, disputes over questions of nuclear rules and their enforcement are subject to the politics that flow from the distribution of power within the international system. In practice, this makes it difficult to separate compliance with rules from debates over fairness.

The tensions inherent here are exacerbated by the fact that the NPT is based on “bargains” that have been unevenly and inadequately fulfilled. Some states argue that the treaty’s Article IV promise of nuclear cooperation in return for nonproliferation is not fulfilled. These states feel that restrictions on access to nuclear technology continue to grow tighter, whereas the “sacrifices” that nuclear-weapon states are supposed to make are unfulfilled. 

Excerpt from the Statement by President Obama on the Adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, October 18, 2015

Today marks an important milestone toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensuring its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful going forward.... Today, Iran begins to take the steps necessary to implement its JCPOA commitments, including removing thousands of centrifuges and associated infrastructure, reducing its enriched uranium stockpile from approximately 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms, and removing the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor and filling it with concrete so that it cannot be used again, among other steps. These next steps will allow us to reach the objectives we set out to achieve over the course of nearly two years of tough, principled diplomacy and will result in cutting off all four pathways Iran could use to develop enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. I am confident in the extraordinary benefits to our national security and the peace and security of the world that come with the successful implementation of the JCPOA.

I have directed that the heads of all relevant executive departments and agencies of the United States begin preparations to implement the U.S. commitments in the JCPOA, in accordance with U.S. law, including providing relief from nuclear-related sanctions as detailed in the text of the JCPOA once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has completed all of its nuclear steps. We will also be closely monitoring Iran’s adherence to its commitments, working closely with the IAEA and the other JCPOA participants, to ensure Iran fully fulfills each and every one of its commitments.

Many states and civil society groups have reason to believe that Article VI represents a bargain of nonproliferation in return for the eventual elimination of all nuclear arsenals.4 This was affirmed in the 1995 decision to extend the NPT indefinitely. Many argue that, despite the dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the world’s nuclear-armed states are not seriously committed to pursuing the abolition of these weapons. The ongoing modernization of the Chinese, Russian, and U.S. nuclear arsenals strengthens this argument. Few if any states argue that the world would be more secure without the NPT, but widespread dissatisfaction exists over how its terms have been interpreted and enforced. 

The Iran case brought these divergent perceptions of fairness and compliance to the center of international politics. The nuclear-weapon states argue either that they have fulfilled their NPT obligations or that the obligations are not what Iran and others say they are. Although the nuclear-weapon states’ arguments have merit, it is also the case that the nuclear-weapon states would resist allowing others the authority to judge their compliance, for example with Article VI’s call for disarmament. 

Other examples of double standards, selective enforcement, and perceived unfairness include differences in the ways that major powers treat India, Israel, and Pakistan. These three states did not sign the NPT, so they did not forgo the “right” to acquire nuclear weapons. Yet, different major powers have treated each of them differently, most notably when the United States, backed by France and Russia, pushed the Nuclear Suppliers Group to exempt India from nuclear trade restrictions.5 As a group, the three non-NPT states have been treated more indulgently than Iran, Iraq, and other states that did sign the NPT. There are sound legal and strategic reasons for treating states that have legally agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons differently from those that did not sign the NPT, but this does not alleviate the sense that the nuclear order is unfair. 

The competing frames of compliance versus fairness have important implications that are not often analyzed. If fairness is central, the notion of negotiating and bargaining among parties with equal standing informs how one sees the contest. Compromise emerges naturally as an acceptable outcome. In the compliance frame, however, the contest is not among actors with equal standing, but rather is an effort by authorities to compel a deviant actor to comply. Negotiation and compromise are not obviously required. We do not pay a violator of rules to correct its behavior and comply; we compel it. In one frame, fairness involves give and take. In the other, fairness is simply compliance.

The first meeting of the Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria, on October 19, 2015. The group was established to monitor implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action curtailing Iran’s nuclear activities. (Photo credit: Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images)The tension between compliance and fairness will play out in general debates, as in NPT review conferences, and in future cases if and when a non-nuclear-weapon state seeks to develop indigenous capabilities to enrich uranium or separate plutonium. States and nongovernmental organizations will intensely debate whether the nuclear-weapon states are complying with their disarmament obligations and what are fair measures of progress toward that end. Discord also will be expressed over whether and how strengthened approaches to IAEA safeguards, including the toughened provisions of the additional protocol, are necessary to uphold the objectives of the NPT and whether inducements, or bargains, should be offered to make this more acceptable. 

The most potent criticism of the JCPOA is that by granting Iran the right to enrich uranium, it will now be practically impossible to persuade or collectively compel other states not to initiate fuel-cycle programs. This criticism has some validity at an abstract level, but is misguided and ultimately not convincing. 

First, critics seem to assume that the United States and its negotiating partners have the power to grant such rights and that they did so in the JCPOA. U.S. officials say that the deal does not establish any right to enrich uranium.6 In any case, Article IV of the NPT neither specifies a right to acquire specific types of nuclear equipment or material nor precludes such acquisition for peaceful purposes. Yet, largely as a result of the contest with Iran, much of the world now believes that enrichment is a sovereign right that is not for the United States or any cabal of states to grant. 

Second, the damage done by allowing highly conditioned enrichment activities in Iran is exaggerated. The number of other states that have displayed the interest and capability to begin enrichment programs, as Iran did, is quite small. South Korea is the only one.7 Indeed, in negotiations with the United States, South Korea has used arguments of fairness to seek consent to conduct fuel-cycle activities. Seoul has juxtaposed its standing as a non-nuclear-weapon state-party to the NPT to that of India, which deploys nuclear weapons outside the NPT and has nonetheless won U.S. support for exempting it from nuclear trade restrictions. Seoul also cites the nuclear deal’s acceptance of enrichment in Iran. More speculatively, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are cited. The former has significant motivation to copy Iran, but lacks technical wherewithal.8 The latter has more capability but less motivation.9 Saudi Arabia and Turkey each would have more motivation to balance Iran if there were no nuclear deal and Iran’s nuclear program was unconstrained. 

Third, there was not a viable alternative to accepting circumscribed enrichment in Iran. Once it was understood that Iran would not be physically forced to comply with demands to totally relinquish enrichment activities and capabilities, the only way to establish verifiable limits on these activities was through bargaining. Iran won the right to continue enrichment; the international community won limits on the scale and scope of these activities and unprecedented verification and enforcement modalities.

To be sure, Iran paid an enormous price for winning these points. It lost hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and trade as a result of sanctions and was politically isolated. It had to accept more comprehensive monitoring and verification of its future nuclear activities than other states. Nevertheless, given the long pattern of illicit Iranian nuclear activities and the evidence to doubt that its nuclear program was exclusively peaceful, Iran was able to bargain for more than it was arguably entitled under the NPT. This occurred in part because of the fundamental reality mentioned earlier: the rules-based international system, unlike domestic governance, does not have predictable recourse to physical power to enforce compliance. 

War is the final arbiter in the international system. If war is not a welcome option among the countries that would have to wage it in order to enforce compliance, which was the case regarding Iran, then negotiation and bargaining must be tried. In a bargaining process, the value of fairness naturally comes into play.


1.   Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Statement by the President on the Adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” October 18, 2015, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/18/statement-president-adoption-joint-comprehensive-plan-action.

2.   UN Security Council, S/RES/1696, July 31, 2006.

3.   Hassan Rouhani, Statement to the UN General Assembly, New York, September 24, 2013, https://gadebate.un.org/68/iran-islamic-republic.

4.   Leonard Weiss, “Nuclear-Weapon States and the Grand Bargain,” Arms Control Today, December 2003, https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2003_12/Weiss.

5.   Mark Hibbs, “The Nuclear Suppliers Group’s Critical India Decision,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), June 18, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/06/18/nuclear-suppliers-group-s-critical-india-decision-pub-63848.

6.   For example, see Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State, “Kerry’s Interview With Reuters on Iran’s Nuclear Program,” August 11, 2015, http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2015/08/20150812316777.html#ixzz4JgTSh3XQ.

7.   Toby Dalton, Byun Sunggee, and Lee Sang Tae, “South Korea Debates Nuclear Options,” CEIP, April 27, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/04/27/south-korea-debates-nuclear-options-pub-63455.

8.   Tristan Volpe, “Calling Out the Saudi Nuclear Bluff,” CEIP, August 25, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/publications/?fa=61095.

9.   George Perkovich and Sinan Ülgen, “Why Turkey Won’t Go Nuclear,” CEIP, April 10, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/2015/04/10/why-turkey-won-t-go-nuclear-pub-59756.

George Perkovich is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. He works primarily on nuclear strategy and nonproliferation issues and South Asian security.

The negotiations that produced the Iran nuclear agreement showed a dynamic that may affect how states approach future proliferation conflicts and the potential for resolving them diplomatically. 

Officials Differ on Iran Deal Reporting

October 2016

By Kelsey Davenport

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued its third quarterly report assessing Iran’s compliance with the July 2015 nuclear deal, as officials from several nations disagree on whether more details are needed in IAEA reporting on Tehran’s nuclear activities. 

The Sept. 8 report says that Iran is abiding by key restrictions laid out in the agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The IAEA certified in January that Iran met the requirements to begin implementation of the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Prior to that, the agency was directed by its board of governors in December 2015 to issue quarterly reports on Iran’s compliance. (See ACT, March 2016; January/February 2016.)

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano meets with Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna on March 5. (Photo credit: Veysel Kuecuektas/IAEA)The report notes compliance with constraints set by the accord, among them Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium being less than the 300-kilogram cap, its enrichment levels remaining at 3.67 percent uranium-235, and Tehran using only 5,060 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges for enrichment at its Natanz facility. 

Despite these details, an official from one of the European countries that negotiated the agreement with Iran told Arms Control Today on Sept. 19 that “it is in the best interest of all parties to the agreement for the agency to provide greater detail” on Iran’s nuclear activities. The official said that “more transparency equals more trust in the implementation of the deal” and that several European countries planned to urge IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano to be more forthcoming in the quarterly reports during the September meetings of the IAEA Board of Governors. 

But another European official said in a Sept. 16 email that there is too much emphasis on the content of the agency’s reports. He said that nuclear activities and the monitoring of nuclear programs is “technically sensitive” and that “not every detail needs to be public.” The official said that what is important is that the IAEA continue to raise any compliance concerns that it observes, as the agency did with the heavy-water limits, and that all of the parties continue to work together to resolve any issues that may emerge as the deal is implemented.

In its first quarterly report on implementation of the agreement, the IAEA in February said that Iran’s stockpile of heavy water, which can be used to moderate some types of nuclear reactors, exceeded the 130 metric ton limit set in the deal. Iran shipped out a portion of its stockpile to return to compliance. The subsequent reports in May and September noted that Iran was under the 130-ton limit. 

In a Sept. 21 statement to the board, Laura Holgate, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, said that the reports “have included the level of detail necessary” for the board and the parties to the nuclear deal to “accurately assess Iran’s implementation of its commitments” and that the “amount of detail needed in these reports necessarily depends on the IAEA’s actual observations and they can be adjusted as necessary.”

The September report did provide some new information on Iranian nuclear activities since the previous IAEA report on Iran, issued in May. The September report noted that Iran removed 96 IR-1 centrifuges from the storage area at Natanz to replace damaged centrifuges that were enriching uranium. As part of the agreement, Iran moved about 13,000 centrifuge machines into storage monitored by the IAEA and can only access the machines under agency supervision to replace broken or damaged machines. 

According to the report, Iran also submitted declarations to the IAEA for implementation of its additional protocol, which gives agency inspectors expanded access to information and sites, and the IAEA is evaluating those documents. As part of the nuclear agreement, Iran is provisionally implementing the additional protocol to its safeguards agreement and will seek ratification of the document.

The IAEA said Iran is complying, but some diplomats want more.

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, September 30

Ministers Meet to Review Iran Deal Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) met at the ministerial level to review implementation of the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The September 22 meeting in New York was the first ministerial-level meeting on the nuclear agreement since the ministers gathered to announce implementation of the deal in January. Iran requested that the meeting take place to review progress on the deal and to raise concerns over the slow pace of sanctions relief. European Union foreign...

Iran Continues to Comply with the Nuclear Deal

The latest IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program confirms that the country is complying with the limits imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran Requests IAEA Review Security

September 2016

By Kelsey Davenport

Iran is asking the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review IAEA procedures for protecting sensitive information after the Associated Press wrote about a document allegedly laying out Iran’s future plans for its nuclear program. The IAEA denied leaking the document.

The document, as described in the July 18 article, included details on Iranian plans for phasing in advanced centrifuges in 2027. At that point, certain limitations on Iran’s uranium enrichment, including restrictions on the types of centrifuges used, expire under the July 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers. (See ACT, September 2015.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano meets May 5 with Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. [Photo credit: Veysel Kuecuektas/IAEA]In a July 29 statement, the IAEA said it sent a letter to Iran in reply “rejecting any statement implying that the agency has leaked information” related to Iranian declarations to the IAEA. 

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said on July 25 that Iran asked the IAEA in the letter to review its “methods of giving different experts access to the secret information” and to have mechanisms to “protect these secret documents.” 

Iran submitted information on the future of its nuclear program to the IAEA as part of the declaration required for implementing its additional protocol, which expands its nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA. 

In June, Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said that Iran would be submitting confidential information soon to the agency as part of its declaration. At that point, Najafi said Tehran “demanded that the country’s confidential nuclear data be protected.”

Iran began provisionally implementing its additional protocol Jan. 16 as part of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). 

By deploying enough advanced centrifuges, Iran could reduce the time it would take to produce enough fissile material to fuel a nuclear weapon. During the first 10 years of the nuclear deal, it would take Iran at least 12 months, according to U.S. officials. 

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a July 19 press briefing that, after the first decade of the agreement, Iran’s enrichment capacity will “undergo measured, incremental growth that is consistent with a peaceful civilian program.” If Iran tries to pursue nuclear weapons development at that time, Washington is confident that the safeguards in place would detect any such movement, he said.

Toner did not comment on the authenticity of the document, but said Iran’s research and development plan was “thoroughly vetted and reviewed” by the IAEA and the P5+1. 

Heavy-Water Sales

Iran reported in July that it delivered 32 tons of heavy water purchased by Washington to the United States. The deal to sell heavy water to the United States was finalized in April, but Iran did not ship the material until it received the $8.6 million payment. 

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the AEOI, said on July 23 that Iran and Russia were finalizing the details on a sale of 40 tons of heavy water and that the AEOI is in discussion with several European countries on additional sales of heavy water. 

Iran is required under the nuclear deal to keep its stockpile of heavy water below 130 tons. Iran is still producing heavy water and slightly exceeded that limit in February, necessitating the sales. 

Iran is looking to capitalize on nuclear cooperation encouraged under the deal to further its research and development in nuclear physics. The agreement required Iran to convert its uranium-enrichment facility at Fordow into a research and development center. Iran is now looking for ways to expand work at Fordow. 

Hamid Baeedinejad, director-general for political affairs and international security in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said Aug. 7 that Iran is in talks with several countries, including some in Europe, on cooperation to turn Fordow into a “modern center for development and research” in nuclear physics. 

New Nuclear Plants

Iran is also moving forward on plans to expand its nuclear power infrastructure and plans to begin construction on two new units at its Bushehr site. Iran currently has one nuclear power reactor at the site. Russia built and fuels the reactor. 

Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company, and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding in 2014 that included plans for Rosatom to supply Iran with additional units at Bushehr. This memorandum built on a 1992 agreement between Russia and Iran on nuclear cooperation. 

Salehi said that construction on the two units will begin this year, now that Russia and Iran have reached an agreement on several outstanding technical issues. Rosatom stated at the time that seismic parameters were one of the concerns holding up the construction. 

In the Iranian calendar, the current year ends March 20. Construction was originally slated to begin during the last Iranian calendar year. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Aug. 8 he thought the construction could begin in 2016. 

Light-water reactors are exempt from the provision of the nuclear deal requiring approval from the procurement review process established to monitor and approve Iran’s purchases of dual-use materials.

Iran wants new procedures to protect against leaks of its sensitive information.

Progress on Nuclear Disarmament, Nonproliferation Inadequate to Meet Threats, New Study Finds



For Immediate Release: July 15, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, communications director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—President Barack Obama failed to make progress in key nuclear disarmament areas over the course of his second term, but did achieve important steps to improve nuclear materials security and strengthen nonproliferation norms, namely the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, according to a new study released by the Arms Control Association, which evaluates the recent records of all the world’s nuclear-armed states.

The report, "Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, 2013-2016," is the third in a series that measures the performance of 11 key states in 10 universally-recognized nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear security categories over the past three years. The study evaluated the records of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea—each of which possess nuclear weapons—as well as Iran and Syria, which are states of proliferation concern.

“The United States is investing enormous resources to maintain and upgrade nuclear weapons delivery systems and warheads and is keeping its deployed nuclear weapons on ‘launch-under-attack’ readiness posture. The lack of U.S. leadership in these areas contributes to the moribund pace of disarmament,” said Elizabeth Philipp, the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Arms Control Association, and a co-author of the report.

“Obama should use his remaining months in office to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. strategies and mitigate the risks of inadvertent use. Obama could consider declaring that Washington will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association and co-author of the report.

“U.S. leadership could spur China and Russia to take positive actions and improve the prospects for further disarmament. Russia’s decision to develop a new missile in violation of its treaty commitments and Moscow’s rebuff of attempts by the United States to negotiate further nuclear reductions is very troublesome, as is the expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal and Beijing’s steps toward increasing the alert levels of its forces,” Philipp added.

“Several states did take significant steps over the past three years to strengthen nuclear security, including action by the United States and Pakistan to ratify key nuclear security treaties,” said Davenport.

“The July 2015 nuclear deal struck between six global powers and Iran was also a significant nonproliferation breakthrough that has significantly reduced Tehran’s nuclear capacity and subjected its activities to more intrusive international monitoring and verification. While the international community must remain vigilant in ensuring that the deal is fully implemented, blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons negates a serious nonproliferation concern and demonstrates the consequences of flouting the international norms and obligations,” Davenport said.

“For the third time, the United Kingdom received the highest grade of all the states assessed, while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list with the lowest overall grades. North Korea’s recent nuclear test and its ballistic missile development require the next U.S. administration to pursue more robust engagement with Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear activities,” Philipp said.

“Our review of the record indicates that further action must be taken by all 11 states if they are to live up to their international disarmament and nonproliferation responsibilities. By tracking the progress, or lack thereof, of these states over time, we hope this report will serve as a tool to encourage policymakers to increase efforts to reduce the risk posed by nuclear weapons,” Davenport said.

A country-by-country summary can be viewed here.
The full report card can be downloaded here


The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.


A new study suggests that President Obama, failed to make progress in key nuclear disarmament areas during his second term.

2016 Report Card on Nuclear Disarmament, Nonproliferation Efforts

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Download this report.

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, July 12

The Iran Deal Turns One It has been one year since Iran and six countries known as the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) reached the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Although there have been slight hiccups along the way, the implementation of the agreement is proceeding relatively smoothly and the parties have been able to resolve most concerns and ambiguities that have arisen thus far. The secretary-general of the United Nations is expected to submit a report this month to the Security Council on the...

U.S. Purchases Iranian Heavy Water

June 2016

By Kelsey Davenport

Washington agreed to purchase heavy water from Iran in April, but an Iranian official said in May that the export of the water was delayed over Tehran’s concerns about receiving payment for the purchase. 

Iranian and U.S. officials signed the purchase agreement for 32 tons of heavy water for $8.6 million in Vienna on April 22, but Jaberi Ansari, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said on May 12 that the heavy water will not be shipped until after Iran receives payment from the United States. 

Heavy water, which can be used as a moderator for nuclear reactors that are particularly well suited for producing weapons-grade plutonium, contains an isotope of hydrogen called deuterium. 

The U.S. purchase of heavy water will help keep Tehran in compliance with a stockpile limit of 130 metric tons stipulated by the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the United States and its negotiating partners last July. (See ACT, September 2015.) Iran slightly exceeded the heavy water limit earlier this year. (See ACT, March 2016.)

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said on May 12 that Iran was proceeding cautiously on the sale to ensure that there will be no problems transferring the U.S. payment to Iran. Despite sanctions relief granted under the nuclear agreement, Iranian officials have said that Tehran is having trouble clearing transactions. 

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told The Wall Street Journal on April 22 that the United States tested Iran’s heavy water and “it’s perfectly good.” Moniz also said the U.S. purchase would be a “statement to the world” that Iran’s heavy water can be purchased. 

The United States will ship the heavy water to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The heavy water will be used at U.S. research facilities, and some could be sold to private companies that use heavy water for industrial applications. 

The United States does not produce heavy water domestically. 

Iran began producing heavy water in 2006 for the nuclear reactor it was constructing at the Arak site.

As originally designed, the heavy water-moderated reactor at Arak would have produced enough weapons-grade plutonium in its spent fuel for roughly two nuclear warheads per year.

The new reactor will still use heavy water, but produce a fraction of the weapons-grade plutonium necessary for a bomb. 

After the reactor comes online, Iran must reduce its stockpile of heavy water from 130 metric tons to 90 metric tons. 

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, said on May 10 that Tehran and Moscow are discussing a sale of 40 metric tons of heavy water to Russia. At the time Arms Control Today went to press, the heavy water had not been shipped to the United States.

Washington agreed to purchase heavy water from Iran in April, but an Iranian official said in May that the export of the water was delayed...


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