Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said at a hearing on the Iran nuclear deal today that they requested a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency on its agreements with Tehran.
These deals are not in the possession of the Obama administration and have never been seen by Secretary of State John Kerry, much less provided to Congress.
“I believe one person may have read it at the — at the facility, but doesn’t have it, they don’t possess it,” Kerry told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.
Today, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano had been invited to come address lawmakers next week, but refused.
He turned down a meeting with senators in any setting: public, private or classified.
Corker is now gathering signatures from senators for another letter to Amano in hope that the IAEA chief will reconsider.
Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) stressed that they’ll “continue to press” for such a meeting as “from the beginning, it’s been our hope that we can get direct communications with the IAEA.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) noted that the IAEA is a UN organization “for which we pay membership dues.”
“We are putting an enormous part of the national security of the United States and of our allies in region in the IAEA,” Menendez said, suggesting “maybe their fear is the question of Parchin,” the secretive military site where Iran will be able to collect its own samples and turn them over to the IAEA as evidence of their compliance with the P5+1 nuclear deal.
“The entire inspections regime, the entire verification regime depends upon the IAEA — and not to be able to question the IAEA about how they’re going to go about it, about their abilities to do so, about the budgetary realities they may need in order to accomplish what we want them to accomplish.”
Menendez stressed that he doesn’t “know how one can come to a conclusion on this agreement without understanding from the agency that is involved.”
“The most critical element of this agreement is them. Forget about the sanctions. Because sanctions only come into play if they’re not performing. We have to know whether they’re performing in the first instance, in the implementation, then we have to know subsequently if they’re performing afterward,” the senator said.
“So I would hope that we would find a mechanism” to lure the IAEA to Congress — perhaps a resolution, he suggested.
“You cannot advise and consent, in a sense, to something for which you’re going in blind on pure faith. Without knowing the wherewithal of how that agency, essential to this agreement if one believes in it, is ultimately going to do its job. And for which we are going to depend upon to defend our interests. It’s amazing to me,” Menendez added.
Menendez also panned administration enforcement of sanctions regimes, noting how hard it is to get entities listed under the Magnitsky Act that targets Russia human-rights violators or under Venezuela sanctions passed by Congress.