Secretary of State John Kerry admitted at the Senate Armed Services Committee today that not only does the U.S. not have a copy of the agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, but he doesn’t know if anyone in our government has read them.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he traveled to Vienna last weekend “to discover the existence of these side deals. The administration has now confirmed their existence. There’s still some lack of clarity about their content.”
“Secretary Kerry, have you read either of these two side deals between the IAEA and Iran?” Cotton asked.
“No, I haven’t read it,” Kerry replied, confirming he also hadn’t read any of the drafts. “I’ve been briefed through our team that met with the IAEA.”
But did anyone on that team read the agreements?
“I believe one person may have read it at the — at the facility, but doesn’t have it, they don’t possess it,” Kerry said. “It’s possible, I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible Wendy Sherman may have, but I don’t know that for sure.”
“If Undersecretary Sherman has read the text of these agreements, even if they are not in her possession, does that not undercut the claims of confidentiality between the IAEA and Iran?” Cotton asked.
“I don’t know whether she read a summary or a draft, or I have no idea. I said, I think, and I’m not sure,” Kerry said.
He added that “we respect the process of the IAEA and we don’t have their authorization to reveal what is a confidential agreement between them and another country.”
Kerry was also pressed again on why the Iran agreement isn’t a treaty, and gave a different answer than he gave the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.
“There are many reasons why… not the least of which is we don’t have diplomatic relations with Iran. This is a situation with a multilateral agreement with many countries and you don’t normally negotiate a treaty in that kind of context. So it’s a political agreement,” he said. “We believe the leverages that are in it through the snap-back of sanctions, through the oversight and inspections are very powerful incentives for Iran’s compliance.”
“I would note that there’s nothing in article two, section two, that limits the definition of treaty along the lines of what you described. And, in fact, nothing in your definition of the term treaty on the State Department’s own web site limits it that way,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who recently wrote a book on the Constitution, countered.
“It defines treaty as a formal written agreement between sovereign states or between states and international organizations,” Lee added. “Doesn’t limit it to the fact it has to be between two. I don’t think that’s an adequate answer.”