How will the nuclear inspections work?

The interim agreement signed by Iran and the world powers is based on the assumption that a six-month period will be sufficient to ascertain whether Iran has begun developing its nuclear programme for peaceful or military purposes.

The professional body tasked with making this call will be the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) based in Vienna. For the first time, the new agreement allows daily, rather than weekly, inspections of Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities and establishes 24-hour camera surveillance at key sites.

Iran is now committed to supplying the IAEA with detailed plans of its new heavy-water reactor still under construction near Arak. The resulting IAEA report will be crucial to the continuation of the diplomatic process in six months’ time.

The agreement is an opportunity for the IAEA to finally reach a conclusion regarding the Iranian programme. For years, the agency has been critical of the programme but lacked full, damning evidence.

The deal also poses the IAEA a unique challenge since it will have to vastly expand its operations at short notice in order to enforce the new inspections regime.

It is still unclear how much access inspectors will be given at the Parchin military base where components for nuclear weapons are reportedly being manufactured.

Last updated: 4:45pm, November 28 2013