1-2. What the deal does
The agreement aims to reduce the Iranian regime's potential to create a nuclear weapon by significantly cracking down on its supplies of low-enriched uranium and by reducing the number of operating centrifuges that can be used to convert uranium to weapons grade. The regime's supply of low-enriched uranium would be reduced from 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms — a 98 percent reduction. The number of centrifuges, meanwhile, will be reduced by about two-thirds to 6,000, as other nuclear facilities are designed to reduce their capacity to manufacture nuclear arms. Ishaan Tharoor at Worldviews has a good explainer on exactly how the deal works.
3-4. Some sanctions go, many remain
Iran faces a wide array of sanctions, affecting everything from arms and energy to travel and finance. The deal would lift most U.N. and European Union sanctions, but U.S. trade sanctions would remain – with an exception for food, airline parts and carpets. The United Nations sanctions on Iran did not come into play until 2006 in response to suspicions that Iran was developing nuclear weapons, and many of those will be lifted in coming weeks. Restrictions on the sale of conventional weapons and ballistic missiles would be lifted after five and eight years, respectively. But other limits would be lifted sooner, providing a green light to a number of countries eager to begin doing more business with Iran.
U.S. sanctions, however, have been adopted over decades not only over concerns about Iran’s nuclear program but also over whether Iran has sponsored terrorism and over Iran’s own human rights record. Officials are not planning any widespread easing of those sanctions anytime soon.
Timeline of sanctions
5-7. Sanctions hit Iran oil sector hard, but now room for new supply
The tightening of the U.S.-European sanctions regime in recent years led to a substantial falloff in Iranian energy exports, from 2.5 million barrels a day to 1.1 million barrels of day. While a number of countries imported less Iranian oil, the European Union's showed a total drop-off.
But with the lifting of sanctions, analysts now project that Iranian oil production and exports will increase gradually in coming years.
Iran is a major player in world oil markets, ranking fourth in the world in proven oil reserves. With time, it could become one of the largest producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
8. Lower oil prices and low gas prices
The price of oil has already been falling in anticipation of the news, and many experts believe it could continue to decline as Iranian oil hits the market and creates new supply. As a result, there could be some effect on gas prices at the pump, too.
9-10. Potential relief for a damaged economy
The tightening of sanctions in recent years has harmed Iran's economy, the only one in the Middle East to see an actual reversal in growth over the past five years and a marked change from the average more than 4 percent annual growth rates of earlier years. As a result of this dramatic slowdown, the Iranian people became poorer, as measured in economic output per capita.
11-12. A youth population especially hard hit
The country's decline has specifically hit young Iranians hard, with an unemployment rate now near 30 percent.
13. No easy conclusion
Though the Iran nuclear deal is a landmark agreement, there's big debate over what it will mean for the security of the region and the world. The region remains deeply divided across sectarian lines. Israel remains strongly opposed a deal out of concern it would empower a regime that has funded terrorism, and it could take years to see whether the nuclear agreement holds.
Staff writer Steve Mufson contributed to this report.