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The Iran nuclear deal as a case study in limiting the proliferation potential of nuclear power

Abstract

Dozens of countries have expressed an interest in acquiring nuclear power, but their doing so would also bring those countries closer to acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran’s nuclear programme provides a recent example of this unresolved tension. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known colloquially as the Iran deal) was a novel legal arrangement aimed at limiting the ability of Iran’s civil programme to be repurposed to make nuclear weapons. This article reviews the technical basis for the agreement and the ways in which a similar construct might be used to limit nuclear proliferation potential in other nuclear-newcomer nations. Specifically, agreements similar to the Iran deal could be used to establish rules for how a state may deploy certain sensitive technologies, provide for enhanced verification beyond what is currently required by international treaty, and provide for a ready-made response framework should a country decide to pursue nuclear weapons at a future point.

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Correspondence to R. Scott Kemp.

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Kemp, R.S. The Iran nuclear deal as a case study in limiting the proliferation potential of nuclear power. Nat Energy 4, 99–106 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-019-0325-2

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