With a four-month extension of Iran nuclear talks announced by the Obama administration last week, U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) introduced legislation today requiring congressional review of any final agreement with Iran. The bill also would prevent further extensions of the negotiations, strictly enforce Iran’s compliance, and prevent implementation of a final agreement if a veto-proof majority of Congress disapproves of the deal.
“I strongly support vigorous diplomatic efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, but it must be clear that there will be no more extensions,” said Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Congress must weigh in on any final deal, ensure Iranian compliance is strictly enforced, and provide a backstop to prevent a bad deal from occurring. While this bill does not include new sanctions on Iran, it allows Congress to seek further sanctions if an acceptable final deal can’t be reached.”
“Stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions through the P5+1 is the most important foreign policy decision in generations,” said Graham. “The Iranians are pursuing a nuclear weapon, not peaceful nuclear power. The last thing the world needs is an agreement with Iran that allows them to maintain their nuclear breakout capability. This agreement should be sent to the Congress for review and Congress should have the ability to vote it down. Congress played a fundamental role in enacting sanctions against Iran and should have a say whether this agreement is strong enough to lift sanctions. President Obama felt he needed congressional approval to move forward in Syria and Congress should insist on being involved in any nuclear deal with Iran.”
“I am more convinced than ever that these negotiations are unlikely to result in an agreement with Iran that prevents it from developing a nuclear weapon,” said Rubio. “By unilaterally making major concessions to the Iranians, the administration is laying the groundwork for a very bad deal. It is essential that Congress have the opportunity to fully examine, debate and vote on any deal concluded with Iran. This issue is too important for U.S. national security for Congress’ views to continue to be ignored.”
“We should seek every opportunity to try to stop Iran's nuclear weapons programs through diplomacy, but diplomacy cannot be an open-ended process that allows Iran to play for time while advancing its program and weakening sanctions,” said McCain. “It must be clear that there will be consequences if Iran fails to reach an agreement or violates its obligations.”
“This important piece of legislation ensures Congress the opportunity to disapprove any nuclear agreement with Iran that does not contain airtight inspection and verification mechanisms,” said Risch. “Additionally, if Iran at any time violates the terms of its nuclear agreements, this legislation rightly obligates the Obama administration to re-impose all previous sanctions and start over. Given Iran’s history and bad faith on this issue, this legislation is absolutely necessary.”
The Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014 contains the following key provisions:
- Congressional Review: The president must submit any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress within three days of concluding such an agreement. After a 15-day review period, Congress has another 15 days to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval, which would have expedited consideration in both the House and Senate. If the president fails to submit any final agreement to Congress or a joint resolution of disapproval is enacted into law, any sanctions that had been temporarily lifted would be re-imposed.
- Making Sure Iran Doesn’t Cheat: Within 10 days of the intelligence community receiving evidence that Iran has failed to comply with the terms of an agreement or cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Director of National Intelligence must determine whether the information is credible and accurate and notify Congress. A determination that Iran has cheated would re-impose all sanctions that had been temporarily lifted.
- No More Extensions: If the president does not submit a comprehensive final agreement to Congress, all sanctions relieved under the interim agreement would be immediately restored on November 28, 2014, four days after the end of the extension period. This allows the president to negotiate while ensuring the Iranians do not use the negotiations as a delaying tactic or a cover for advancing their program.