In late December, talks about the implementation of the interim P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran hit a snag over a relatively minor dispute on interpretation of the “research and development” exemption for centrifuges. Today, officials say that dispute is still unresolved.
Western diplomats confirmed that the dispute, which sparked the end of talks before Christmas, remains a “sticking point,” with both the US and Iran having starkly different interpretations of the language of the pact.
The P5+1 deal has an explicit exemption for research and development centrifuges, and last month Iran installed a handful of new centrifuges in their research tract based on that exemption.
The US argues that new centrifuges are only allowed if they are replaced on an as-needed basis, and that even adding them to the research tract obliges Iran to take some of their existing centrifuges offline.
The dispute over the interpretation of the deal has both sides crying foul, with Iran believing the US is adding limitations they never agreed to, and the US believing Iran is “cheating” on the margins. In practice, the installations mean little to nothing in terms of uranium production, but the distrust threatens to be a wedge for hardliners in both nations who have been trying to sabotage the pact.