In a similar vein, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, put out a statement:
The IAEA report proves Iran lied. For years, the Iranian regime worked secretly to develop a nuclear weapon. And there are still important questions that remain unanswered. For example, how far did Iran get toward building a bomb? And what happened to all of the materials, research, and expertise Iran acquired?Iran’s long track record of obstructing investigators means the IAEA will face significant challenges moving forward – especially since the president’s nuclear agreement allows Iran to carry out self-inspections at key sites. Iran won’t even have to cheat to achieve advanced enrichment capacity, which puts them just a small step away from a bomb.
Congress is attempting to exert greater scrutiny over the administration. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced, “As the JCPOA with Iran moves toward Implementation Day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will initiate a rigorous program to ensure effective Congressional monitoring and oversight of this agreement as well as its regional and nonproliferation implication.” The schedule includes hearings this month on the IAEA report. Corker also indicated, “The senators also requested regular interagency briefings consistent with reporting requirements of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.”
But, of course, hearings — unless they induce the administration to take action against potential violations — are not preventative measures; they are exercises in accountability. To that end, Congress should methodically examine whether the representations it made about the deal are turning out to be true. If not — if the deal is really not as advertised — Congress has every right to reinstate nuclear-related sanctions. Indeed, it might feel obligated to do so. Interestingly, Senate Democrats continue to hear from angry and worried pro-Israel constituents about their filibuster. Perhaps Democrats would appreciate a second bite at the apple, especially in light of Iran’s recent behavior, including continued imprisonment of Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who just passed 500 days in detention.
Critics argue that sanctions should not be lifted (quite apart from Iran’s non-nuclear-related activity for which new sanctions are entirely warranted). William Tobey writes:
A baseline declaration is necessary for effective international monitoring. Moreover, this issue is about the future. Neither the IAEA nor the United States can be confident that Iran’s nuclear weapons development work will not resume if all aspects of the past activities are not well understood and dismantled. Where, for example, is the explosive chamber that was used at Parchin, and to what purpose is it being put today? Were other chambers fabricated and used? What became of the nuclear explosion modeling? Who was involved in it and what are they doing now?The Iran deal will go forward. Sanctions will be lifted. The bedrock principle of safeguards work — a complete and correct declaration followed by IAEA verification — will be fractured (temporarily at least), with U.S. complicity. Why should future proliferators not invoke the Iran deal precedent, under which the Iranians pretend to comply with their obligations, and we pretend to believe them? Why even should Tehran take seriously all the administration’s huffing and puffing about the importance of compliance?
The sham Iran deal has ushered in a new era of appeasement, one in which the administration dare not take action against Iran for human rights violations, aggression in the region or even the impermissible launch of a missile. As Congress sits idly by as the administration averts its eyes, its culpability in a disastrous deal increases.