Iran shuts down most of its nuclear program

It's paying a technological price to get sanctions lifted.

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Iran promised to shut down the majority of its nuclear program in return for an end to stiff economic sanctions, and it's making good on its word. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have confirmed that Iran is meeting its end of a 2015 deal that will limit its ability to produce nuclear weapons. The terms had it shut down two thirds of its nuclear centrifuges, eliminate 98 percent of its low-enriched uranium supplies, halt construction of a key reactor and curb both its refinement as well as its research for the next 15 years. It's also subject to tighter inspections that theoretically prevent it from restarting weapons development within the next 25 years.

As you might imagine, reactions to the shutdown are drawn sharply along political lines. Proponents hope that this will not only reduce the threat of Iran obtaining nukes, but thaw diplomatic relations and improve ordinary Iranians' quality of life. President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, is counting on the lifted sanctions to boost both a flagging economy and his chances at reelection.

Plenty of critics exist on both sides, however. Some are convinced that Iran will roll the newly liberated cash into terrorist activities and resume work on nuclear weapons as soon as it can. There's a worry that Iran will simply play nice until arms sanctions start disappearing, such as a ballistic missile ban that expires in 8 years. And Iran's more headstrong nationalists didn't want a deal in the first place -- they see it as weakening the nation's political clout. Either way, it's evident that the pact carries a heavy technological toll.

[Image credit: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images]

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