A Comprehensive Timeline of the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Does all this talk of centrifuges and snap-back sanctions have your head spinning? You’re not alone. The details of the Iran nuclear deal are a bit complex, and figuring out just what is supposed to happen when can be tricky, even for those who do this for a living.

October 2015 | by David Delaney

We have put together a detailed summary of the timing of obligations and activities triggered at each step of the Iran deal, including exactly when various sanctions will be relaxed or terminated and when the various restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program are slated to end.

Finalization Day (July 14, 2015)

  • The day the agreement was reached and endorsed by Iran and the P5+1

  • The deal will be “promptly” submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for endorsement

The UN endorses the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 20, 2015)

  • endorse the JCPOA 

  • “terminate” all prior UN sanctions, beginning on Implementation Day (and subject to re-imposition through snapback mechanism)

President Submits Agreement to Congress (July 20-September 17, 2015)

  • After all relevant documents are submitted to Congress (July 19, 2015), both houses of the U.S. Congress will have 60 days to vote on the deal, as required by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, sponsored by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

  • During this time, President Obama is prohibited from lifting sanctions on Iran

Adoption Day (October 2015)

  • 90 days after the UNSC endorses the JCPOA, OR an earlier date mutually agreed upon by participants in the JCPOA.

  • The “JCPOA and the commitments in the JCPOA” come into effect

  • Participants in the JCPOA will begin making “necessary arrangements and preparations” to implement their commitments under the JCPOA

Implementation Day (Early 2016)

The day on which the IAEA report verifies that Iran has done the following:

Arak Heavy Water Research Reactor

  • that Iran has ceased pursuing construction at the existing Arak Heavy Water Reactor based on its original design

  • that Iran has removed existing calandria from Arak, and that the calandria have been made inoperable

  • that Iran is not producing or testing natural uranium pellets, fuel pins or fuel assemblies designed for the original Arak reactor

  • IAEA will monitor all existing uranium pellets, until the modernized Arak reactor becomes operational at which point the natural uranium pellets and IR-40 fuel assemblies will be converted to UNH

  • that Iran has made necessary technical modifications to the existing natural uranium fuel production process line for the modernized Arak reactor

Heavy Water Production Plant

  • that all excess heavy water beyond Iran’s needs for the modernized Arak research reactor are being made available for export (for 15 years)

  • that Iran has informed the IAEA about the inventory and production of the Heavy Water Production Plant and allows for monitoring

Enrichment Capacity

  • that Iran is keeping its enrichment capacity at under 5060 IR-1 centrifuges, in no more than 30 cascades in their current configuration at Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant

  • that Iran is keeping its level of uranium enrichment below 3.67 percent (for 15 years)

  • that Iran has removed all additional centrifuges and infrastructure (not associated with the 5060 IR-1 centrifuges in FEP) and placed them in Natanz under monitoring

Centrifuges Research and Development

  • that ongoing enrichment R&D does not accumulate enriched uranium

  • that enrichment R&D with uranium includes only IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges. Mechanical testing is carried out only on the IR-2m, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, IR-6s, IR-7 and IR-8, and only one or two of each type. Iran is building or testing only those gas centrifuges specified in this JCPOA (10 years)

  • that all testing of centrifuges with uranium is taking place only at the PFEP, and all mechanical testing of centrifuges is only at its Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (at Natanz) and The Tehran Research Center (15 years)

  • that Iran has adapting PFEP to the its long-term R&D plan, by removing and modifying all excess infrastructure and equipment in specified ways of Annex IIG

Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant

  • that Iran is not conducting any uranium enrichment or related R&D and has no nuclear material at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (for 15 years)

  • that Iran is maintaining no more than 1044 IR-1 centrifuge machines, that they are in one wing of the FFEP, and that have been structured in specific ways: two cascades modified for production of stable isotopes and four cascades remaining idle

  • that Iran has removed the remaining cascades and infrastructure

  • (All of these will be placed in Natanz under IAEA continuous monitoring, but the IAEA is not required to certify that at this stage)

Other Aspects of Enrichment

  • that Iran is abiding by its voluntary commitments under its long-term R&D plan

  • The IAEA will monitor and approve annually for the duration of the plan that the nature, scope and scale of Iran’s enrichment program.

  • that a template for describing different centrifuge types and associated definitions, and a procedure for measuring centrifuge performance data has been agreed on.

  • that all enriched uranium hexafluoride in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% enriched UF6 (or the equivalent in different chemical forms) will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold and delivered on the international market  

  • that all uranium oxide enriched to between 5% and 20% has been fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or transferred outside of Iran or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67% or less

  • that Iran is not building or operating facilities for converting fuel plates or scrap back to UF6 (for 15 years)

Centrifuge Manufacturing

  • that Iran is replacing broken or damaged active IR-1 centrifuges only from its stock of monitored stock of machines, and that the only centrifuges Iran is producing are to keep the store of IR-1s from dipping below 500

Additional Protocol and Modified Code 3.1

  • that Iran has notified the IAEA of its provisional implementation of the Additional Protocol and full implementation Modified Code 3.1

Centrifuge Component Manufacturing Transparency

  • that Iran has provided the IAEA with an initial inventory of all existing centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows is providing reportscation) on changes in inventory

  • that Iran has declared all locations and equipment that are used for the production of centrifuge rotor tubes or bellows and permitted continuous IAEA monitoring

5 years after Adoption Day (October 2020)

  • UN sanctions on conventional arms lifted

  • May also occur earlier, if the IAEA reaches the “Broader Conclusion” that “all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities”

 Transition Day, 8 years after Adoption Day (October 2023)

  • UNSC sanctions on ballistic missiles are lifted

  • May also occur earlier, if the IAEA reaches the “Broader Conclusion” that “all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities”

  • Iran must seek ratification of the Additional Protocol on Nuclear Safeguards, which it signed in 2003 but has never formally “concluded.” (According to Iran, ratification by the Majlis is necessary for the Iranian government to conclude Protocol.)

 8.5 years after Adoption Day (March 2024)

  • Iran may commence testing up to 30 advanced centrifuge machines. Iran will proceed from single centrifuge machines and small cascades to intermediate cascades in a logical sequence.

  • Iran may begin manufacturing of IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges without rotors through year 10 at a rate of up to 200 centrifuges per year for each type

 15 years after Adoption Day (October 2030)

  • Iran’s obligation to export all heavy water beyond Iran’s needs for the modernized Arak research reactor ends

  • Iran’s obligation to keep uranium enrichment below 3.67 percent and 300kg ends

  • Iran’s obligation to conduct all testing of centrifuges with uranium at PFEP (Natanz) and all mechanical testing of centrifuges is only at PFEP and the Tehran Research Center ends

  • Iran’s commitment not to conduct any uranium enrichment or related R&D at Fordow

  • Iran’s commitment to limit the number, location and activity of IR-1 centrifuges in Fordow ends

  • Iran’s obligation not to engage in any spent fuel reprocessing or related R&D activity, nor to acquire hot cells or facilities capable of separation of plutonium, uranium or neptunium from spent fuel ends. Iran “does not intend to thereafter”

  • Iran’s formal commitment to permit the IAEA on-line enrichment measurement and electronic seals, and to facilitate a long-term IAEA presence through visas, working space and an increased number of inspectors ends

  • Iran’s commitment to allowing IAEA continuous monitoring of stored centrifuges and infrastructure ends

  • Iran’s commitment to allowing the IAEA regular access to Natanz ends

  • Iran’s commitment to obtain prior approval from the Joint Commission before engaging in enrichment or enrichment related activities with other countries ends

 20 years after Adoption Day (October 2035)

  • Iran’s commitment to contain, and allow IAEA surveillance of, rotor tubes and ends

 25 years after Adoption Day (October 2040)

  • Iran’s commitment to permit IAEA verification that all uranium is transferred to the uranium conversion facility in Esfahan (or to future uranium conversion facilities which Iran might eventually build) ends


Executive Editor

Ms Anna Sullivan

Ms Anna Sullivan