Saying Secret Iran Deals Violate Law, Congressman Submits Resolution Barring Vote

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) submitted a resolution today demanding that a vote on the nuclear deal with Iran be postponed until the White House releases the text of the side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Roskam argued that keeping the side deals secret violates the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which was passed by near-unanimous consensus in May, and that a vote on the deal could therefore not occur until all relevant agreements are made public.

Politico reported:

Roskam (R-Ill.) is planning to try to force a vote this week on a resolution that says President Barack Obama has not submitted the entirety of the agreement to Congress, and therefore the House should not hold a vote to reject the deal. Roskam is trying to draw attention to the so-called “side deals” that were hashed out between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Roskam plans to offer the resolution as a privileged motion Tuesday afternoon, which means it would become the immediate business of the House. A vote on Roskam’s measure is expected to come by Thursday. The House plans to reject the Iran deal this week.

“It’s a very straightforward approach,” Roskam told POLITICO. “And that is the administration has to comply with the law. Until they comply with the law, the clock doesn’t tick. After the clock ticks there’s a vote. This is not an argument that says this is a bad deal – although I believe it is. This is a process argument.”

Roskam released a statement laying out his argument for why the Obama administration needs to release the side deals.

In May, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed and President Obama signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which requires the Administration transmit to Congress all documents related to the [deal]—including side agreements—prior to a 60-day review period and subsequent vote. A day after the nuclear accord was announced, reports surfaced that Iran and the IAEA struck two side agreements related to Tehran’s past nuclear work. In clear violation of federal law, repeated requests from leading Democrats and Republicans to review the side agreements were rebuffed by the Obama Administration. Congressional briefings provided by Administration officials are a legally insufficient substitute for providing the actual text of these documents. Therefore, I raise a question of the privileges of the House insisting that, until the Administration complies with the law, Congress should not vote. All Members of Congress, regardless of their position on the nuclear deal, should demand the robust and transparent review process necessary to cast a fully informed vote.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (.pdf) specifies that the White House must disclose “any additional materials related thereto, including…side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday that the Obama administration’s failure to do so may violate constitutional law.

The Associated Press reported last month that one of the side deals states that Iran, and not the IAEA, will collect evidence from the Parchin military site, where Iran is believed to have tested detonators for nuclear explosions. Although the administration has acknowledged the existence of side deals since July, it has insisted that these deals must remain confidential. Former IAEA deputy director-general Olli Heinonen said at the time that the inspection plan departed “significantly” from IAEA practice. He added last week that the details of the deals need to be revealed, since IAEA bylaws permit members of its Board of Governors to request the publication of side deals.

[Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr ]