On Thursday, April 2nd, the world rejoiced at the news that Iran had reached a tentative agreement with United States and five other world powers to limit its nuclear program. The landmark deal that was announced from Lausanne, Switzerland has been in the works for over two years.
Under the terms of the agreement, Iran would amongst other things, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 97% (from 10,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms). The country also agreed to scale back the number of installed centrifuges and allow international inspectors to monitor its nuclear program for the next 25 years. Experts believe that these measures will slow down any plans Iran has to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade and possibly even more. In exchange, the United States and the European Union agreed to lift the economic sanctions that have crippled the country's economy since they were imposed in 1996.
While the outline of the plan has been agreed upon, there are many details that still need to be ironed out. Representatives from Iran and the United States, China, Germany, France, Britain, and Russia are scrambling to get everything done before the June 30th deadline. If all goes well, it will mean a peaceful solution to a problem that has been haunting the world since 1984.
Iran's interest in nuclear technology can be traced all the way back to the 1950's when the country was under the regime of the Shah of Iran. However, until 1978 the country abided by the rules of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that listed Iran as a non-nuclear weapon state. In January 1996, the Shah was ousted and replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini. The new leader was initially not interested in the nuclear program. However, things changed following the country's four-year conflict (from 1980 to 1988) with neighboring Iraq.
The rumor that Iraq's then-leader Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear program, ignited Ayatollah Khomeini's interest in the technology. Since then the world has lived in the constant fear that the country is secretly stockpiling uranium with an intention to build a nuclear bomb. And while there have been numerous attempts to reach a peaceful accord, none have made it as far as this latest deal. Though things could unravel between now and June 30, world leaders are hopeful that we will finally be able to do something that is rare these days - resolve a serious matter peacefully!