Secretary of State John Kerry is headed up to the Hill next week to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the interim deal with Iran, and he will presumably do the same on the Senate side at some juncture. It is there Congress can and should make their concerns crystal clear and do their best to elucidate what the administration is really up to.
Lawmakers might ask any number of questions, including these:
Is the administration still committed to enforcing the United Nations’ resolutions concerning Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program? If not, how did Iran get to the point where Kerry thinks compliance is unattainable?
Do Kerry and the president still believe Iran has no right to enrich, and if we don’t recognize that right, why does Iran keep insisting that is what the interim agreement does?
If Iran refuses to dismantle its enrichment program, will the president really carry through on his promise that all options remain on the table? If so, why did he not say so in his remarks announcing the interim agreement?
If we were caught by surprise by Pakistan’s, India’s and North Korea’s nuclear breakouts, how can we be certain we would anticipate Iran’s breakout in enough time to do something about it? Didn’t Iran successfully conceal nuclear sites for some time?
With the lifting of sanctions and Kerry’s decision not to enforce certain oil sanctions, how many dollars will flow to Tehran and what will be the impact on its economy? Why are we giving Iran access to X billions of dollars when it is still in violation of multiple U.N. resolutions? Does the United States have the ability to unilaterally disregard or alter U.N. resolutions?
Why is Iran not subject to further sanctions for its human rights violations? Do you consider Iranian leaders’ repeated speeches declaring their determination to wipe out the Jewish state to be “incitement to commit genocide”?
Why do our allies in the region have the impression this is a very bad deal and that we are stepping back from the region? Are they confused, and if so, how did they so misunderstand the deal and our intentions? Why did Kerry tell the Senate banking committee to ignore what the Israeli government was saying on the subject?
Is there an enforceable deal with no implementation agreement, and if not, why has he already announced we will suspend enforcement of certain sanctions?
What if the Iranians stall? How much time should they be extended? Would we put an end date on a final, comprehensive agreement so that at the end of it there will be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program?
Questioners surely can come up with others. As one former official critical of the administration suggested, they might even ask Kerry if he “really thinks it’s a coincidence that after we sign this weak deal with Iran, this is the moment China decides to create a crisis in the air over the [East] China Sea.”
The more we know about this deal the worse it appears. Congress would do the American people and our allies a great service if they could separate facts from spin and do whatever possible to prevent the administration from legitimizing an Iranian nuclear weapons program.