U.S. Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a letter to President Barack Obama Thursday, presented their plans for ongoing oversight of the Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that was reached in July with members of the P5+1 and Iran.
“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 implications,” the senators wrote in their letter to the president.
“We hope that your Administration will remain committed to engaging Congress going forward.
In anticipation of this program, we request that you make available Administration witnesses to testify in public hearings and provide classified briefings,” they added.
The proposed schedule includes an initial series of hearings with administration officials beginning in December that will be timed with the release of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, the first semi-annual report from the administration pursuant to existing law under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, and “Implementation Day” when Iran has complied with the terms of the JCPOA. The senators also requested regular interagency briefings consistent with reporting requirements of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.
The act, which was coauthored by Corker and Cardin, requires the administration to certify every 90 days that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement. A failure to provide the certification or a material breach by Iran would make available expedited procedures for consideration of legislation in Congress to reimpose sanctions. An additional semi-annual report from the administration also will provide detailed information regarding Iran’s nuclear-related and other destabilizing activities, including support for terrorism.
Full text of the letter is included below and is available online here
Dear Mr. President:
Thank you for providing senior Administration officials for public hearings, classified briefings, and numerous consultations during the period of Congressional Review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Your engagement with Congress was important in informing our deliberations and assessment of the JCPOA. 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 implications. We hope that your Administration will remain committed to engaging Congress going forward.
In anticipation of this program, we request that you make available Administration witnesses to testify in public hearings and provide classified briefings. The Committee anticipates holding the following hearings at to-be-determined dates:
· December 2015: Hearing on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Report on Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program. This report will be due to the IAEA Board of Governors by December 15, 2015. This is a significant milestone toward the JCPOA’s implementation and thus merits a public discussion and debate.
We request that the Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator, and the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation testify during this hearing.
· January 2016: Hearing on the first semi-annual report due to Congress pursuant to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. The hearing will provide an assessment of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, as well as updates on Iran’s support for terrorist activities and advances in its ballistic missile program. Though Implementation Day may not occur by the deadline for the first semi-annual report, other national security threats related to Iran’s behavior and actions outside of the JCPOA merit public discussion and debate.
We request that the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, the Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, and the Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence testify during this hearing.
· TBD: Hearing on JCPOA Implementation Day. If Implementation Day for the JCPOA is achieved, the Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss U.S. expectations for monitoring and verifying Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, tracking sanctions relief provided to Iran, articulating a multi-tiered strategy for responding to incidents of Iranian non-compliance with the JCPOA, and institutionalizing a U.S. strategy for countering Iran’s destabilizing actions.
We request the Secretary of State, Secretary of Energy, and the Secretary of the Treasury testify during this hearing.
Following implementation of the JCPOA, the Committee will hold regular classified briefings. These briefings will cover the full scope of issues relevant to Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, as well as Iran’s support for terrorism and destabilizing regional activities. As part of its oversight function before each briefing the Committee should receive all information relevant to Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement. For these briefings we request that you make an interagency briefing team available with representation from the State Department, Treasury Department, Energy Department, Defense Department, and Intelligence Community:
· On a quarterly basis, an interagency team should be prepared to brief members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
· On a monthly basis, an interagency team should be prepared to brief Committee staff at the appropriate clearance level.
We appreciate your assistance, through access to administration officials and information, to ensure effective Congressional oversight and monitoring of the JCPOA.