A Matter of Concern

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The Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr. (EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh)
The Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr. (EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh)

Hundreds of members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry last weed expressing concern over Iran’s “refusal to fully cooperate” with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s continuing investigation into Iran’s dismantlement of its nuclear program as required by the  P5+1 framework agreement.

The letter, signed by 352 members of the House of Representatives, included House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).


“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,” Royce and Engel, who authored the letter, wrote. “As you [Kerry] wrote in the Washington Post earlier this summer, if Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, ‘it’s not a hard proposition to prove.’ The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.”

The letter stated that any agreement that does not fully hold the Iranian regime accountable for meeting IAEA deadlines and inquiries would set a “dangerous precedent” and that Iran should not be allowed to declare parts of its nuclear infrastructure off limits to IAEA inspections. Such obstruction would frustrate the monitors’ ability to make “accurate predictions of the period of time needed by Iran to assemble a [nuclear] weapon and [to make an] assessment of Iran’s compliance.

“We would like to achieve a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis,” continued the letter. “As negotiations resume, we urge you to carefully monitor Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA’s inquiry.”

The IAEA, an agency of the U.N., reported last month that Iran missed a deadline in February to which it had agreed as part of a framework agreement with the P5+1. That agreement led the United States to lift some of its economic sanctions against Iran and to contemplate providing further relief when and if a final deal is reached.

According to Reuters in a story last week, the IAEA reported that Iran had failed to answer questions about its research into explosive testing and neutron calculations — essential to the production of nuclear weapons — by the Aug. 25 deadline.

Meeting with President Barack Obama last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that despite the numerous regional threats to Israel, including Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS, Iran remains Israel’s greatest danger.

“Even more critical is our shared goal of preventing Iran from becoming a military nuclear power,” said Netanyahu. “As you know, Mr. President, Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you’ve worked so hard to put in place, and leave it as a threshold nuclear power.  I fervently hope that under your leadership that would not happen.”

The P5+1 negotiations recently entered their final phase, beginning with trilateral meetings between Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton. The deadline for a final agreement in the negotiations is scheduled for Nov. 24.

dshapiro@washingtonjewishweek.com

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