Republicans want clarification on Iran side deals
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A pair of Republican lawmakers want the head of an international energy agency monitoring Iran's nuclear facilities to clarify Tehran's role in the inspections.
The two lawmakers said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should be upfront about Iran's role given the controversy surrounding side deals between Tehran and the IAEA signed during negotiations between Iran and the U.S. and five other countries.
"We ask that you ... fully explain the role Iran plays in verifying its nuclear facilities under the secret side deals Iran and the IAEA have concluded, and affirm that this arrangement in no way is precedent setting for future inspections of any kind," Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Tech groups take aim at Texas Republican lawmakers raise security, privacy concerns over Huawei cloud services Debt ceiling fight pits corporate America against Republicans MORE (R-Ark.) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) wrote in a letter to Yukiya Amano, the IAEA's director general.
The letter comes amid reports that Iran took samples at Parchin, a controversial military site, without the presence of IAEA inspectors. While Parchin is a military facility, Iran is suspected of carrying out tests related to nuclear bomb detonations there. 
Referring to the reports, Amano said in Vienna that the IAEA has "permitted states’ representatives to carry out activities in support of the agency’s verification work."
In light of his comments last week, Cotton and Pompeo also want him to clarify comments he made in August that he was "disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran." 
Amano's August remarks came after The Associated Press reported that Iran will be allowed to use its own experts to look for signs of nuclear weapons work at Parchin. The AP originally referred to Parchin as a nuclear facility. 
The side deals between Iran and the IAEA have been a focus of lawmakers opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. Under the agreement, Iran accepts limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. 
Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump-backed challenger to Cheney decried him as 'racist,' 'xenophobic' in 2016: report FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio MORE (R-Texas), as well as Republicans in the House, pushed congressional leadership to delay the 60-day review period, arguing that the administration violated the law by not handing over the side deals.
The administration says while it has been briefed on the deals, it doesn't have the documents. President Obama has also sent top administration officials to Capitol Hill to discuss the agreements with lawmakers. 
Meanwhile, Cotton and Pompeo have fired off a string of letters to administration and IAEA officials pushing for additional information on the agreements. 
They added in Monday's letter that any deal that excludes IAEA inspectors "sets a dangerous precedent for future inspections, whether related to settling outstanding PMD issues or verification issues that arise after Implementation Day of the JCPOA, and undermines the credibility of the IAEA."