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<em>Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal</em>

Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal

Key questions, points of divergence, pros and cons, pending legislation, and essential facts

Report, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

April 2015

Editor: Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy; Future of Diplomacy Project; Iran Project



On April 2, 2015, the EU (on behalf of the P5+1 countries) and Iran announced agreement on “key parameters” for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran. The EU-Iran Joint Statement is buttressed by unilateral fact sheets issued by the U.S. and Iran, which provide further details of the framework accord.  Not surprisingly, differences have emerged between the U.S. and Iranian versions of the deal. These differences reflect both political spin and remaining issues that have not been resolved.  In the next phase of this process, the negotiators will seek to finalize a comprehensive agreement by June 30, 2015.

To assist Members of Congress and others to evaluate the emerging deal, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School has prepared this Policy Brief summarizing key facts, core concepts, and major arguments for and against the emerging deal. Amidst the sound and fury of claim and counter-claim, the purpose of this Policy Brief is not to advocate support for or opposition to the deal, but rather to provide an objective, nonpartisan summary to inform Members of Congress and others in coming to their own conclusions. The team of experts who prepared this report includes Democrats, Republicans, independents, and internationals, who have many disagreements among themselves, but who agree that this Brief presents the essentials objectively. Since the negotiations are ongoing and the debate is intensifying, we invite readers who disagree with our presentation or who have additional questions or points to send their comments to us at If suitable, we will post these contributions with attribution on our website Iran Matters.

Contributors: Graham Allison, Matthew Bunn, Nickolas Burns, Shai Feldman, Chuck Freilich, Olli Heinonen, Martin B. Malin, Steven E. Miller, Payam Mohseni, Laura Rockwood, James K. Sebenius, and William Tobey


1. Introduction

2. Documents of the Framework Accord

3. Key Questions and Answers

4. Essential Facts and Concepts

5. Pending Legislation

6. Key Terms

View Charts:

Click here to see full set of charts, maps, and infographics from the report.

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For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.

For Academic Citation:

Samore, Gary. Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal. Cambridge, Mass.: Report for Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, April 2015.

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