Lawmakers urge White House to warn Iran

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case Menendez jury deadlocked, ordered to keep trying MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.) are calling for President Obama to warn Iran against violating an interim international agreement toward halting its nuclear program in light of several news reports that suggest it is doing so. 

In a letter sent to the president on Monday, Menendez and Kirk — authors of U.S. sanctions that were suspended against Iran as part of the interim deal— urged the president to “publicly affirm the consequences of any attempt by Iran to violate the Menendez-Kirk amendment and the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) during negotiations.”

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The senators said, under the interim agreement, Iran agreed to keep its daily crude oil exports constant over a six-month period in exchange for suspending sanctions against Iran. 

“Recent reports, however, suggest that Iranian oil sales have remained above one million barrels per day for five straight months,” they wrote. 

“Even more alarming, Reuters reported last week that Iran and Russia are making progress toward a $20 billion barter arrangement that would breach the JPA and significantly undermine U.S. sanctions by increasing Iran’s daily exports of crude oil by as much as fifty-percent,” they added. 

“We are further alarmed by reports that the barter agreement may provide for the transfer to Iran of items of significant value to Iran’s military and its nuclear program,” they said. 

Menendez and Kirk say the U.S. should reinstate the sanctions if Iran moves forward with efforts to evade U.S. sanctions and violate the terms of oil sanctions relief provided for in the JPA. 

“We urge you to put Iran on notice that United States is prepared to re-instate these sanctions should Iran attempt to evade our sanctions and violate the terms of the JPA,” they wrote.