On 14 July, Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany) signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, concluding almost two years of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The historic deal was based on an earlier framework agreement, reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 2 April (see the Special Document File in JPS 44[4]).

The framework agreement had been hotly debated in the U.S. Congress, with critics warning that it would pave Iran’s path to the bomb. After negotiating with the Obama administration on oversight legislation, Congress had passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 in May requiring congressional approval of a final deal. The bill provided Congress 60 days to review the JCPOA after it was signed. Thus the JCPOA’s opponents, both U.S. and international, began a final push to override it.

Despite the Obama administration’s repeated offers of increased military aid to Israel in exchange for support, the JCPOA’s most outspoken critic, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made the rounds on major U.S. news networks in an attempt to “kill a bad deal.” Similarly, Israeli lobby groups spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising and lobbying efforts, with AIPAC vowing to fight the JCPOA “with the entirety of its institutional resources.” Republican representatives who opposed the deal on the grounds that it constituted a threat to Israeli security continued their efforts to discredit its inspection protocols (see Doc. D2). However, opponents ultimately failed to garner enough congressional support to override the deal by the 17 September review deadline.

The excerpts below outline the general provisions of the JCPOA. The agreement provides for sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for limitations on its nuclear enrichment capabilities, to be monitored by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. The full text of the JCPOA is available at www.state.gov . Note that the text of the agreement does not employ the term P5+1, current in U.S. usage, but rather E3/EU+3 (the UK, France, and Germany, the EU High Representative, plus China, Russia, and the U.S.).