We come from different political parties in an extremely polarized Congress. After careful consideration, we also came to different conclusions on the merits of the Iran nuclear deal. However, we both agree it’s time for Congress to move beyond residual debates and now act to oversee Iran’s full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
It remains the unequivocal policy of the United States that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon. For close U.S. allies, including Israel, this unwavering policy stance represents a fundamental security assurance in an increasingly volatile Middle East. While we continue to disagree on whether the JCPOA will succeed in preventing Iran’s long-term pursuit of nuclear weapons, we agree that anything less than Iran’s full compliance with this agreement will assuredly jeopardize security in the region.
Our proposal, introduced with the backing of both supporters and opponents of the Iran deal, enlists Congress as a partner in the effort to ensure that Iran upholds its obligations. Just as Congress helped build a robust Iranian sanctions regime to deter Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, Congress has a similarly constructive role to play in ensuring the strictest enforcement of the JCPOA.
The Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance Act (H.R. 3741) would establish a Congressional-Executive commission with bipartisan-appointed staff to continually assess Iran’s performance under the deal and the adequacy of the deal’s safeguards to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program. Participation by the Departments of Defense, Energy, State, and the Treasury will facilitate coordination between Congress and the Administration on these and related matters.
The Commission is one of the rare proposals on Capitol Hill that is garnering support from both sides of the heated JCPOA debate. Congress should seize this opportunity to come together on an issue that demands thoughtful and dedicated Congressional oversight.
This idea is not without precedent. The Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance is modeled after the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, created in 1976 to monitor compliance with the Helsinki Final Act. Despite initial pushback from the Nixon administration, the Helsinki Commission has served as an oversight model and is still actively carrying out its mission nearly 40 years after it was established.
With this bipartisan proposal, we can put Iran on notice that there will be enduring Congressional oversight of the JCPOA. Most Members of Congress would acknowledge that their vote on the Iran deal was one of the most important foreign policy votes they will ever cast; it certainly was for us. And while we continue to disagree on the substance of the agreement, it is clear that the implications of this deal meet the threshold for necessitating a dedicated oversight body moving forward. By establishing this Commission, Congress will be able to play a valuable role in addressing the Iranian nuclear threat.
That’s something all parties can agree upon.
Connolly has represented Virginia’s 11th Congressional District since 2009. He sits on the Foreign Affairs and the Oversight and Government Reform committees. Hanna represents New York’s 22nd Congressional District and has served in the House since 2011. He sits on the Small Business and the Transportation committees.