Diplomacy

As Iran Nuke Talk Deadline Looms, Lawmakers Urge White House to Involve Congress

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing the Obama administration to work more closely with Congress as the P5+1 powers near the July 20 deadline to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran that would force the Islamic republic to put its atomic program beyond use for weaponization. In a letter signed by 344 House members, lawmakers called for any final nuclear agreement with Iran to force “Iran’s permanent and verifiable termination” of ballistic missile development, unconventional weapon development, terrorism financing, and nuclear proliferation activities:

This often unnoted reality necessitates extensive engagement with Congress before offers of relief are made to Iran, and requires Congressional action if sanctions are to be permanently lifted. With the July 20 negotiating deadline on the near horizon, we hope that your Administration will now engage in substantive consultations with Congress on the scope of acceptable sanctions relief.

Meanwhile, Al Monitor’s Congress Pulse reported that Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Mark Kirk (R.Ill.) have filed legislation that would impose harsh sanctions on top Iranian officials, up to and including President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for what Senator Kirk called “blatant violation[s] of basic human rights”:

“While we continue to focus on disarming Iran’s dangerous nuclear program, we cannot forget that Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism that persecutes their own citizens,” Senator Kirk said.

The outlet noted that there are likely to be multiple Iran bills introduced in the coming weeks as Congress pushes for a greater role in the implementation of any agreement between Washington and Tehran over the latter’s atomic program.

The Hill last month cited a letter authored by Reps. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, respectively the chairman and the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which emphasized that “most U.S. sanctions are intertwined with Iran’s other actions… includ[ing] its ballistic missile program, its nonconventional weapons program and its support for international terrorism.”

The White House is believed to have explored options under which President Obama could unilaterally lift sanctions on Iran in the context of an agreement with Tehran without involving Congress.

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