Iran Nuclear Talks

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    • A new round of talks on the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers has begun in Vienna.

    More about the news

    • Iran signed the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with world powers in July 2015.
      • JCPOA agreed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions on the country. 
    • But, following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 under its former president and the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions, Tehran has backtracked on its obligations.
      • USA’s current Stand:
        • It is ready to “re-engage in meaningful diplomacy” on the issue.
        • It intends to rejoin the deal but insists that Iran must return to full compliance with the agreement first.

    Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

    • In 2015, Iran agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 (the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany).
    • The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action aims to guarantee the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions.
      • Under it, Iran agreed to significantly cut its stores of key components for nuclear weapons like centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy water.
      • Iran would only have enough enriched uranium to maintain its energy needs, without having the ability to build a nuclear bomb.
      • It also agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear programme and open its facilities to more extensive international inspections in exchange for billions of dollars worth of sanctions relief.
    • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) played an important role in enforcing the deal, keeping a check on Iran and inspections.

    International Atomic Energy Agency

    • Popularly known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace and Development” organisation, the IAEA is the international centre for cooperation in the nuclear field.
    • It was established on 29th July 1957 as an autonomous organisation, at the height of the Cold War (1945-1991) between the US and the Soviet Union.
      • Post World War II (1945), the world got divided into two power blocs dominated by two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the US.
      • The two superpowers were primarily engaged in an ideological war between the capitalistic ideals of the West versus the communist ideals of the East.
      • It came to an end after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.
    • Though established independently of the UN through its own international treaty, the agency reports to both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
    • It works with the member states and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

     

    Significance for India

    • Regional Connectivity: 
      • Removing sanctions will rekindle India’s interest in the Chabahar and Bandar Abbas ports.
      • India also has an interest in the International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC), which runs through Iran. 
      • It will improve connectivity with five Central Asian republics and will also get a boost.
    • Indian Ocean Security:
      • This would assist India in neutralising China’s footprint in Pakistan’s Gwadar port.
      • Also, will help counter China’s alleged String of Pearls Policy.
    • Energy Security:
      • Due to the US’ Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), India has to bring down oil imports to zero.
      • Re-establishment of links between the US and Iran will help India to procure cheap Iranian oil and aid in energy security.

    Way ahead

    • This is unlikely to be a meeting that resolves the outstanding issues” but “it could create the breakthrough necessary to push the talks towards a finishing line rather than a collapse.
    • A restored deal could reduce the chances of another escalation and could further regional stability.
    • India needs to balance diplomatic relationships with all the stakeholders to further its own interests.

    Uranium as a Fuel

    • Nuclear fuel is mined from naturally occurring uranium ore deposits and then isolated through chemical reactions and separation processes.
    • Natural uranium consists of two different isotopes: 
      • Nearly 99% U-238 and 
      • Only around 0.72% of U-235.
        • U-238 is not fissile, thus the concentration of U-235 must be increased before it can be effectively used as a nuclear fuel.
        • U-235 being a fissile material sustains a chain reaction in a nuclear reactor.
    • Uranium enrichment:
      • It is a process that creates an effective nuclear fuel out of mined uranium by increasing the percentage of uranium-235.
      • Enrichment process basically increases the proportion of U-235 through the process of isotope separation (U-238 is separated from U-235).
    • For nuclear Weapons:
      • Highly Enriched Uranium or weapons-grade uranium
      • For which enrichment is required up to 90% or more.
    • For Nuclear Reactor:
      • Low Enriched Uranium or reactor-grade uranium
      • Enrichment is required upto 3-4% only.

    Source: TH