Energy secretary: ‘We got it right’ on Iran deal

Energy secretary: ‘We got it right’ on Iran deal
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Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizCongress needs to prod the IRS to capture carbon Former diplomat Yovanovitch wins award for her work Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show MORE defended the 8-month-old nuclear deal with Iran on Wednesday, despite continued congressional attacks on the agreement.

“Frankly, I think on the nuclear side we got it right,” Moniz said during the Washington Ideas Forum, hosted by The Atlantic. “Iran’s nuclear program is dramatically scaled back, as the agreement required.”

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The United Nations’s nuclear agency has three times “confirmed that Iran is complying with the nuclear requirements,” Moniz added, pointing to a series of reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Moniz recently returned from an IAEA summit in Vienna, Austria, where he met with the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency.

In remarks to reporters following that meeting, Ali Akbar Salehi suggested that countries around the globe are dragging their feet in rolling back sanctions against Iran. His remarks echoed previous complaints by Iranian officials about the pace of international economic engagement with their country, even months after the deal went into place.

“We’ll keep working at it,” Moniz said on Wednesday. “We all want to keep tracking the agreement and see to it that Iran’s entry to the international marketplace is according to the agreement.”

The Energy secretary's comments are likely to infuriate Republicans, who opposed the nuclear accord from the beginning and have since claimed that Iran has undermined the spirit of the pact. Since the deal went into full effect in January, critics note, Iran has continued its tough posture against regional neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, taunted the U.S. military and continued to test ballistic missile systems.

Last week, the House passed legislation targeting what critics called ransom payments made to Iran shortly before the deal went into effect as part of a strategy to renew attention on the nuclear deal. The deal has received mixed reactions from the public, and Republicans have tried to hammer President Obama on the pact before Election Day.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has defended the agreement, claiming that it was solely meant to cut off Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon.

“We have to remember that the agreement that we have is on one issue, which is the nuclear weapons — peaceful uses of nuclear energy issue,” Moniz said on Wednesday.

“The fact that we’ve gone through three IAEA reports successfully clearly gives us some degree of comfort,” he said, but he cautioned that aspects of the deal extend more than two decades.

“We are at the beginning of a long process, which of course means that not only Iran but the international community, the agency, the United States, the government — we need to sustain our attention to this for a very long time.”

“Frankly, to me, the deal stands on its own,” he concluded. “Success, hopefully, in this, proscribing their activities to purely peaceful nuclear activities.

“But obviously we hope that it will be one contributor to what is probably a decadal kind of march towards a stronger relationship.”