A huge majority of House lawmakers have appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry to take note of Iran’s refusal to cooperate with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency as the P5+1 tries to forge a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
The letter was led by the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) — and the 352 other signatories included House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
“As you know, the IAEA has sought information on the ‘potential military dimensions’ of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device,” the letter to Kerry states, noting that in its Sept. 5 report the IAEA said Iran “had failed to meet its latest deadline.”
“We believe that Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement,” the lawmakers wrote. “…The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.”
“We are concerned that an agreement that accepts Iran’s lack of transparency on this key issue would set the dangerous precedent that certain facilities and aspects of Iran’s nuclear program can be declared off limits by Tehran, resulting in additional wide-ranging restrictions on IAEA inspectors, and making effective verification virtually impossible.”
A “resolution” of the issue of IAEA inspections is “essential to establishing a baseline regarding the status of the Iranian nuclear program,” they stressed.
“Accurate predictions of the period of time needed by Iran to assemble a weapon and assessments of Iran’s compliance cannot be made without highly reliable information obtained from an unrestricted inspection and verification regime. Such a baseline is also critical to developing more precise estimates on the time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability without detection.”
The lawmakers added that they would like to see a negotiated solution to the crisis, but urged Kerry to “carefully monitor Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA’s inquiry.”
“As you have written, there is a ‘discrepancy…between Iran’s professed intent with respect to its nuclear program and the actual content of that program to date.’ We agree with your assessment that ‘these issues cannot be dismissed; they must be addressed by the Iranians if a comprehensive solution is to be reached.’ An agreement that effectively prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability demands transparency on the extensive research and development work that Iran has undertaken in the past.”