Two House panels will examine the details of the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran next week amid pressure from Congress to slap new sanctions on the country.
The Middle East and nonproliferation panels of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a joint hearing on Tuesday, just hours before President Obama's State of the Union address. The hearing aims to probe the Nov. 24 agreement freezing Iran's nuclear program, which only went into effect Monday following disagreements between Iran and the international community on how it should be enforced.
"As today marks the beginning of implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, it is vital for us to scrutinize this agreement that fails to meet basic foreign policy objectives," Middle East panel spokeswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said in a statement. "Next week, I will convene a subcommittee hearing to further examine how this agreement jeopardizes our national security, endangers the safety of our ally the democratic Jewish State of Israel, and does very little to prevent Iran from being nuclear capable. Any agreement that fails to force Tehran to completely stop its uranium enrichment program, give up its ICBM program, allow access to its military sites, and dismantle its existing centrifuges is a bad deal."
Witnesses include Mark Wallace, a former ambassador to the UN under President George W. Bush who now heads the pro-sanctions United Against Nuclear Iran. The group has clashed with the White House over its effort to paint pro-sanctions lawmakers as encouraging a war with Iran.
The escalating rhetoric comes as 59 senators have signed on to legislation that would trigger sanctions if Iran fails to agree to a final deal that would bar it from enriching uranium. The Republican-led House had considered passing similar legislation to force the Senate's hand but that proposal seems to have lost traction because it could turn sanctions into a partisan issue.
“Iran has already stated that it could reverse the intent of this implementation deal very quickly and due to the concessions already made, a growing number of companies from Europe and elsewhere are already starting to flock to Iran to seek new business opportunities," Ros-Lehtinen said. "It took years to get tough sanctions signed into law and giving the Iranian regime access to hard currency will only strengthen its nuclear ambitions and embolden the regime to continue to sponsor terrorism abroad. Sanctions brought Tehran to the negotiating table, and we must continue to place and enforce strong sanctions until our ultimate objective is met and not reward this regime for its ongoing illicit activities."
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