National Security

Lawmakers hit the White House for 'lack of clarity' on Iran

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers is calling for the Obama administration to provide more "clarity" about the strategy for implementing the nuclear deal with Iran.

Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) plan to introduce a resolution urging the administration to outline how the U.S. will keep Iran to the terms of the deal, including an affirmation of potentially using military force to prevent the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Under the anticipated resolution, which has not yet been formally introduced, the House "expresses its concern over the lack of clarity from the administration with regards to its response in the event of minor or incremental violations by Iran of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."

Moulton said Iran's recent ballistic missile tests - which international officials say violated United Nations Security Council resolutions - and ties to terrorism continue to raise concerns about the country's trustworthiness.

The freshman Democrat, who voted in support of the deal last year, suggested that the White House should clarify how it would respond to behavior from Iran that it finds objectionable as it works to implement the deal.

"Frankly, if we were satisfied with the administration's response to date, we wouldn't have written the resolution," Moulton said Wednesday.

Ribble, who voted against the accord, said the measure would be a "pragmatic" recognition that the deal is going into effect and needs to be effectively implemented whether lawmakers originally supported the deal or not. He posited that fellow Republicans would find the resolution's language sufficiently "tough," even though virtually all of them opposed the Iran deal.

"We're not taking anything off the table," Ribble said of potential repercussions for Iran.

The U.S. and other countries began removing sanctions on Iran's financial and oil sectors this month after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog for the United Nations, certified that the country had sufficiently dismantled parts of its nuclear program.

Separately, the Obama administration put new sanctions into place a day later to retaliate against the ballistic missile tests.

The resolution would urge the president to work with Congress to ensure the International Atomic Energy Agency, State Department and Treasury Department have "full funding" to implement the terms of the deal and impose any new necessary sanctions.

Ribble, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he informed Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) about the resolution during a congressional trip to Africa last week. Royce said he would review the measure before potentially moving it through the committee process, according to Ribble.

The House is slated to conduct a do-over vote on legislation when it returns from recess next week that would prevent the Obama administration from lifting sanctions on Iranian entities unless it certifies they aren't affiliated with terrorism or ballistic missile development.

Lawmakers were originally slated to pass that bill before Iran was expected to receive sanctions relief, but more than 100 lawmakers missed the vote earlier this month after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) closed the vote on time to punish tardiness.

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