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April 6, 2015

U.S. and Iran reach framework for nuclear agreement


Iran, the U.S. and five other nations reached agreement last week on the outlines of a deal that would limit Iran’s nuclear capacity for the next 15 years.

The agreement would decrease the number of centrifuges in Iran by two-thirds. Centrifuges are machines that create enriched uranium, the material used in nuclear power and weapons. Iran must also shrink its stockpile of uranium.

The deal would establish a system of inspections to catch any violations. In return, the other countries would remove some economic sanctions –limits on trade that have harmed the economy and made life hard for most Iranians.

This framework would ensure that Iran could not produce a nuclear bomb in less than a year even if it violated the agreement, according to U.S. officials.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s nuclear program would not pose a threat to any other country. “We want better relations with countries that we have cold relations with. The enrichment and technology will not be used against any country, no regional country or any in the world,” he said.

The country most unhappy with the agreement is Israel. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said allowing Iran to retain centrifuges puts Israel at risk because nuclear weapons could be used against his country. But President Barack Obama stressed that as Israel’s ally, the U.S. would not allow any actions that endangered the safety of Israel.

“What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there,” Obama said in an interview with The New York Times.

World leaders plan to turn the framework into a more detailed draft of an agreement by June 30. Several questions remain, including how quickly sanctions will be removed and how to ensure Iran complies with the agreement.

Warm up questions
  1. What is “diplomacy”? How does it work?
  2. What does the term “foreign policy” mean?
  3. What do you know about the relationship Iran and the U.S.? Between Iran and Israel?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why is it important to limit a country’s ability to produce nuclear weapons?
  2. What are the challenges of negotiating with Iran on this topic?
  3. In these negotiations, what do both sides want?
  4. How do you think the Iranian government is presenting this agreement to the Iranian people?
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