The nuclear deal negotiated with Iran is a “forever agreement” that will last well beyond the next decade, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Monday from the White House briefing room.

Moniz, who played a key role in negotiating the nuclear pact in Switzerland, said the framework agreement provides for intrusive inspections that would ensure Iran is not racing to build a nuclear weapon.

Many of those conditions would last for 25 years or more, he added, well beyond the 10-year limits on Iran’s ability to construct centrifuges.

“It’s not a fixed-year agreement; it’s a forever agreement,” Moniz told reporters at the White House. “The access and transparency is unprecedented,” Moniz said.

{mosads}The comments from the Energy secretary are part of a full-court press the Obama administration is making to both build support for the deal, and to convince Congress to give negotiators time to reach a final agreement by the end of June.   

President Obama called the agreement a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” in an interview with The New York Times released Sunday. He has touted the framework deal repeatedly in appearances from the White House and in the media. 

Obama faces skeptics in both parties who do not trust Iran and are worried the agreement would not impose tough enough rules to prevent the country from sliding on its commitments. 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who earlier this year organized a letter to Iran’s leadership warning that a future president could overturn a deal negotiated with Iran, has vowed to do everything he can to stop the agreement.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote next week on legislation that would allow Congress to review a deal. The administration is opposed to that legislation, which has support from some Democrats.

Republicans have also talked about moving new sanctions against Iran that the administration believes would kill the deal, if approved. Sixty-six senators support sanctions legislation offered by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.), though it is not certain that all 66 would vote for the legislation ahead of June 30, the deadline for negotiators to reach a final nuclear deal. 

Congressional reaction to the framework has fallen largely along partisan lines, with most Republicans criticizing the framework and raising questions about whether it would truly prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been critical, arguing it is a great deal for Iran but a terrible deal for the world. 

The Democratic Party has been divided over the talks, though some Democrats have offered support for the interim deal. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), for example, said the framework was better than she expected. 

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that he wants to find ways to “strengthen” Obama’s hands in the negotiations, but did not say he would support votes on any specific Iran measures such as the pending sanctions bill. 

He offered some skepticism about the deal.

“You can’t believe what Iran says, they’ve cheated before,” he said. “We must make sure that all three of those components are in that agreement.”

Moniz said the agreement would implement restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity and stockpile, as well as its plutonium development, which would keep the country at least one year away from obtaining enough nuclear material to construct a bomb.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest also said that “additional protocol” inspections, including wide-ranging checks of Iranian nuclear sites and its supply chain, would be in place “in perpetuity.”

Last updated at 2:46 p.m.

Tags Ernest Moniz Iran

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