Chairman demands to see Iran 'side deals'

Chairman demands to see Iran 'side deals'
© Greg Nash

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceBottom line Bottom line California was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success MORE (R-Calif.) is demanding to see the "side deals" between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Congress debates the Iran nuclear agreement.

In the letter released to Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters Four environmental fights to watch in 2022 MORE Tuesday morning, Royce writes it is "imperative that these arrangements are made available" to Congress.

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"While this may not be typical IAEA practice, there is nothing typical about the Iranian threat or this nuclear agreement," he adds.

Royce argues that Iran's willingness to resolve concerns addressed in the agreements "is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement."

"Reviewing these side agreements is critical to Congress understanding whether Iran intends to pass that test," he writes.

"It is clear to me that this issue deserves more scrutiny by the Committee," Royce writes. "Indeed, all Members of Congress should have access to the separate arrangements negotiated between Iran and the IAEA."

Royce writes that he is also concerned that the agreements — which seek to resolve questions on Iran's prior military work on a nuclear weapon — will dictate access to a secret Iranian military facility and become the standard for future inspections at suspicious sites.

"The ‘separate arrangement’ agreed to between the IAEA and Iran regarding inspection of the facilities at Parchin will almost certainly be regarded by Tehran as a precedent for IAEA access to future suspicious sites in Iran," Royce writes.

"I have little doubt that ‘side deals’ of today will become central to the agreement’s verification provisions tomorrow," he adds. "These 'separate arrangements' have the potential to seriously weaken our ability to verify the agreement as a whole."

The White House has called the "arrangements" with the IAEA standard and confidential. But Republicans, and some Democrats, argue that the administration is required to submit the "side agreements" to Congress for review.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act allows Congress 60 days to review the Iran nuclear agreement, which would lift sanctions in exchange for limits on Tehran’s nuclear development program. Congress can submit a resolution of approval, disapproval or take no action.

A resolution of disapproval would prohibit the White House from lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran, which supporters of the agreement say would kill the entire deal. Obama is expected to veto the resolution if it passes, however.

The White House later Tuesday brushed off calls to submit those agreements to Congress.

White House spokesman Josh Ernest said the administration does not have text of the Iran-IAEA agreement, but said officials are familiar with their contents and provided classified briefings for House lawmakers.  

“We believe we have produced all of the material Congress needs in order to consider this specific agreement," Earnest said.

Senators are due to receive a closed briefing on the side deals on Wednesday by the director general of the IAEA.

-- Jordan Fabian contributed to this report.