Washington — The formal adoption of the Iran nuclear deal will be Oct. 18, but it is not yet clear how long it will take for Iran to satisfy conditions to relieve sanctions, top U.S. officials said.
The senior administration officials, speaking Thursday afternoon in a conference call with reporters, outlined the steps Iran must take before inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, confirm that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal reached in July between Iran and six major powers.
The call to reporters came the same day that the Obama administration announced that Stephen Mull, the outgoing ambassador to Poland, would be the point person for ensuring Iranian compliance with the deal.
Among other measures, Iran must remove thousands of centrifuges from its Natanz reactor, ship overseas all but 300 kilograms of 12,000 kilograms of enriched uranium and remove the center of its plutonium reactor, the officials said.
Because of how involved the measures are, the officials would not estimate how long it would take to get to “implementation day,” when the IAEA confirms compliance and sanctions are lifted. Reports have indicated that Iran is likely to comply with conditions in from between six months to a year from adoption of the deal.
“All of this will take a lot of effort and probably a fair amount of time,” said an official. “The ball is in Iran’s court – it’s hard to predict how long it will be before sanctions relief is implemented.”
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
One condition the Iranians must complete prior to Oct. 18, or “adoption day,” is to report to the IAEA on the possible military dimensions of its past nuclear activity. Iran has insisted its nuclear research is for civilian purposes only. The deadline for Iran’s report to the IAEA is Oct. 15.
The Obama administration on Thursday said the way was clear to launch the deal now that Congress has reached the deadline to pass a bill that would kill the deal. Senate Democrats used parliamentary procedures to block votes last week, on Tuesday and then on Thursday.
Republicans oppose the deal. The Obama administration and opponents of the deal, which include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for the last two months fiercely battled to influence Democrats and also the U.S. Jewish community on the deal.
Opponents said the deal leaves Iran a nuclear threshold state, while the Obama administration argued that it was the best means of keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Adam Szubin, nominated to be the Treasury undersecretary who manages sanctions relief, was a key player, reassuring Israelis and pro-Israel figures that non-nuclear sanctions against Iran – for its backing for terrorism and its human rights abuses – would not only be sustained, but intensified.
Szubin, testifying Thursday to the Senate Banking Committee, which must approve his nomination, invoked his Jewish heritage. His father, he noted, had fled Nazi-occupied Europe.
“My parents raised us to be conscious of the existence of real evil in the world, evil not as an abstract concept, but as an all too real threat that they had seen in their lifetimes: regimes — leaders and willing followers — who pursued murder and even genocide, in the Holocaust and, sadly, in other places in the decades that followed,” he said.