GOP raises pressure over Iran ‘side deals’

GOP raises pressure over Iran ‘side deals’
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Republicans on Tuesday raised pressure on the White House to submit the deals Iran has negotiated with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran and the IAEA reached agreements separate from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and five other powers. The “side deals” between Iran and the IAEA resolve questions on Iran's past work on nuclear weapons and access to an Iranian military site.  

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In a letter to Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryPompeo announces Israeli settlements do not violate international law Deval Patrick's 2020 entry raises stakes in New Hampshire Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide MORE, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) called for the side deals to be submitted to Congress as part of its 60-day review of the nuclear deal. 

Separately, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) in a Tuesday letter to President Obama asked the White House to submit the deals.

“Members of Congress have the right and the duty to review every relevant document, every term, and every word of this agreement in order to make an informed decision about whether or not it merits our support,” said Pompeo’s letter, which was signed by 94 Republicans.

White House officials argue the agreements between Iran and the IAEA are separate from the nuclear deal and confidential. They have offered to brief Congress on their contents, but say they can’t submit them to lawmakers. 

Some Democrats have joined Republicans in saying the documents should be released.

“I think that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act really meant for everything to be available,” Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters Graham blocks resolution recognizing Armenian genocide after Erdoğan meeting Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden MORE (D-N.J.) told The Hill on Monday. 

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Health Care: Democratic gains mark setback for Trump on Medicaid work requirements | Senate Dems give Warren 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder | Judge strikes Trump rule on health care 'conscience' rights Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder Former NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat MORE (D-Md.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member, also asked to see the agreements at a recent hearing with administration officials.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has provided detailed classified briefings about the contents of the agreements for a “large number of House members,” and that a classified briefing would be scheduled for senators later this week.  

In addition, he said, the director general of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, had scheduled a series of meetings with lawmakers on Tuesday. 

Amano is also scheduled to brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Menendez, a senior member of the committee, said he pushed for that briefing.  

“I pushed for that at the hearing last week when they originally said they would not come brief us, and I thought that was appalling, since 90-something percent of the agreement depends upon inspections and verification ability of the IAEA,” Menendez said. 

Royce said he had concerns despite a classified briefing from senior State Department official and lead negotiator Wendy Sherman. He said he was concerned the procedures contained in the side agreements for inspections of the Parchin military site would lead to a watered down inspections regime.

Those arguing to see the side deals got a boost on Tuesday from a prominent foreign policy figure and proponent of the nuclear deal.

“I am in violent agreement with you on this question,” Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former under secretary of State for political affairs told Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainConservative group cuts ties with Michelle Malkin Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters Donald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble MORE (R-Ariz.) at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. 

“A way should be found for the IAEA Secretary General to brief in full the United States government about what's in the agreement, and I think the administration should find a way perhaps in classified session to brief the Congress, I agree with that,” said Burns.