A day by day breakdown of what would happen if the Iran nuclear deal is signed

A day by day breakdown of what would happen if the Iran nuclear deal is signed
7 min read
08 Sep, 2022
Richard Silverstein breaks down what can be expected from the revised JCPOA, explaining what each of the four stages of the deal's implementation will mean for Iran, the US, and the international community.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Josep Borell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, at the foreign ministry headquarters in Iran's capital Tehran on June 25, 2022. [Getty

According to a confidential Israel source, this week a Mossad official briefed Israel's diplomatic reporters on the European draft of the new JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran. It is far more comprehensive than the earlier 2015 version negotiated during the Obama administration.

If fully implemented, it would shut down Iran's uranium enrichment program, while also lifting almost all sanctions imposed on Iran over the past decades. It would permit the full resumption of Iranian oil production and sales along with commercial deals with foreign companies. It would even lift a 15-year UN arms embargo.

Though Mossad chief David Barnea railed against the JCPOA accord in his own briefing a few days ago, calling it "a lie" and a "strategic disaster”, apparently there are divergent views in the spy agency, as the briefing indicates. 

It's also possible that the top official was speaking in a public capacity, in which he must be seen to be a security hawk, while in the private briefing, the Mossad could be more candid and pragmatic.

"[The new JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran] is far more comprehensive than the earlier 2015 version negotiated during the Obama administration"

The Jerusalem Post published this comprehensive account of the briefing. Its report offers the most detailed account of the content of the accord yet published in the global media. Axios has also confirmed many of the details, as media outlets report the renewed JCPOA could be announced as early as this Friday.

According to the Jerusalem Post, there are four stages in the implementation of the deal spread over 165 days. On day zero, the JCPOA member states will sign the agreement. The US, having withdrawn from it in 2018, would not be considered an official participant until the deal is fully implemented.

Under one critical provision, Iran would release US prisoners it holds in return for US sanctions relief. It currently holds two Iranian-Americans who have been excluded from previous exchanges.

I previously reported that these prisoners, Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi, were arrested by Iranian intelligence agents a decade ago, following a deliberately provocative investigative report published anonymously in the Daily Beast. It was entitled: The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby.

In return for the prisoner release, President Biden would rescind punitive presidential executive orders signed by Donald Trump and lift sanctions imposed on 17 banks. That would, in turn, release $7 billion in Iranian assets frozen by South Korea.

Iran would also cease enriching uranium to 60% as it is now doing. Its threshold would be decreased to 20%.The IAEA, which has been prohibited from most monitoring activity of the Iranian nuclear programme, would resume its inspections.

Five days after these provisions are implemented, the Biden administration would bring the JCPOA to Congress for its review. If, as is quite possible, the Senate fails to pass the legislation, Biden would veto the vote. It's highly unlikely opponents could muster a 2/3 vote to overturn the veto.

Biden would then go forward with further implementation. He would lift a set of congressionally-imposed sanctions, which are far more comprehensive and damaging than those previously imposed by executive order.


Pro-Israel Congressional Democrats are already marshalling their forces to sabotage the agreement. They've written a letter to the president outlining their criticisms. 40 members of Congress have signed it, though they have not publicly released their names. AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, spent millions supporting many of these members.

Now they will be repaying the cash received. The donors were mostly GOP billionaires eager to blunt the success of progressives like Senators Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who have been highly critical of Israel.

60 days after the deal is signed, the JCPOA signatories would declare to the UN and IAEA that the accord has been renewed.

At this point, the US would offer a temporary sanctions exemption allowing Iran to sell 50 million barrels of oil on the world market. It would also permit business negotiations in the fields of aviation and energy production.

"In the coming years the prohibition against enrichment and use of advanced production methods (including centrifuges) would expire. By 2030, the entire deal would expire"

Iran would, in turn, cease uranium enrichment above 5% and offer full disclosure to the IAEA in preparation for the latter’s full resumption of monitoring of its nuclear sites.

On day 120, four months after the "day zero" commencement of the JCPOA, both Iran and the US would publicly declare their intention to return to full compliance with the original terms of the deal.

Day 120 would also see Iran responding fully to the IAEA's investigation of suspected nuclear sites, whose activities Iran has refused to discuss. It did so in response to Trump's abandonment of the agreement in 2018. After Iran provides the necessary accounting to the international body, the latter would close its investigation. This had been one of Iran's major demands.

At this point in the implementation process, Iran would further reduce its uranium enrichment to just under 4%. It would also shut down its most advanced centrifuges, installed after the 2018 US withdrawal from JCPOA.

Then the US would lift all "secondary sanctions" and remove a limited number of Iranian groups from its terror list (though not the Revolutionary Guards). The US would also brief global businesses on resuming full trade relations with Iran.

On the final day 165, the US would lift all sanctions, while Iran would implement all nuclear restrictions. The Biden administration would lift the UN arms embargo mentioned above . It would also permit trade between Iran and the JCPOA signatories. Iran would then completely shut down all enrichment activity.

However, all of the "sunset provisions" of the original JCPOA would remain in effect. In the coming years the prohibition against enrichment and use of advanced production methods (including centrifuges) would expire. By 2030, the entire deal would expire.

Though this may be alarming and will certainly be used by Republicans as a cudgel with which to beat Democrats, it's worth noting that if the JCPOA could be renewed after two years of negotiation, it should be possible to negotiate its renewal (or a new agreement) between now and that date.

"We can also expect a continued, and perhaps even intensified, Israeli campaign to eliminate key Iranian military and nuclear scientists"

Israel's subdued response

The current centre-right government in Israel is taking a decidedly different view of the deal than its predecessor. Where Netanyahu railed against the deal and connived to sabotage it, PM Lapid seems resigned to the deal's completion. He is, in effect, doing damage control - trying to make the best of the situation. This, for Biden, is a welcome change, and bodes well for its eventual acceptance by both Americans and Israelis.

However, Israeli officials have proclaimed loudly that along with the nuclear deal, there must be a military option. It’s not clear why, if all parties honour their obligations, there should be such an option. Such a demand relates, no doubt, to domestic Israeli politics. Lapid cannot be seen to be less anti-Iranian than the opposition Likud.

We can also expect a continued, and perhaps even intensified, Israeli campaign to eliminate key Iranian military and nuclear scientists. Israel’s Mossad will also maintain its efforts to infiltrate Iran’s intelligence apparatus and generally sow division and mistrust within Iranian society in order to weaken the clerical regime.

Richard Silverstein writes the Tikun Olam blog and is a freelance journalist specialising in exposing secrets of the Israeli national security state. He campaigns against opacity and the negative impact of Israeli military censorship.

Follow him on Twitter: @richards1052

Have questions or comments? Email us at: editorial-english@alaraby.co.uk

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.