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Lawmakers lashed out at the White House on Tuesday for refusing to publicly release the full text of the recently inked nuclear accord that permits Iran to partially continue its contested nuclear program.
The interim deal signed over the weekend between Tehran and Western nations permits the Islamic Republic to retain many aspects of its disputed nuclear program, including its advanced nuclear centrifuge research, which would allow Iran to more quickly enrich uranium.
While lawmakers, nuclear experts, and foreign policy observers of all stripes have expressed concerns about the deal, the White House is refusing to release the deal's full text, prompting outrage on Capitol Hill.
“First the Obama administration signed a dangerous nuclear deal with Iran that relieves sanctions without dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), the House’s chief deputy whip and co-chair of its Republican Israel Caucus.
“Now the White House is refusing to release the text of the agreement,” Roskam told the Washington Free Beacon. “Are there details the American people will like even less than what they have already heard?”
The White House made clear on Monday to reporters that they would not be releasing the full text to the public.
“As far as making the document public, this—these understandings are for the [International Atomic Energy Agency]. It’s designed to help them in their—well, we say in the Joint Plan of Action they’re going to be responsible for verification,” a senior Obama administration official told reporters during a Monday conference call.
When pressed on why the deal will not be made public, the Obama administration official deflected blame.
“With respect to the agreement that was reached, these are technical understandings that have been agreed among the P5+1 [negotiators], the Iranians, and the IAEA,” the official said. “Frankly, ultimately, the IAEA and the [European Union] as a lead negotiating body for the P5+1 will make those determinations about what to make public in those understandings.”
The official said that some details of the deal will remain “confidential” and never be released publicly.
“I would certainly anticipate that, as has been the case in the past, elements of the IAEA’s reporting will be made public over the life of the six months in the implementation of the agreement,” the official said. “At the same time, since these are technical understandings of the IAEA, some others will also remain confidential going forward.”
Members of Congress said this is completely unacceptable.
“Congress and American public have many questions about the Iran deal,” GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) tweeted on Monday. The White House “must explain why it's not releasing the text of the agreement.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) told the Free Beacon that the White House is not nearly as transparent as it claims to be.
“It is simply unacceptable for the White House to stonewall on the specifics of the Iran nuclear agreement,” Bachmann said. “The ‘most transparent administration ever’ has been anything but transparent.”
“On an issue with such national security repercussions, the public deserves to see the details of the agreement—the White House should release the text immediately,” Bachmann said.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), one of the chief architects of a new Iran sanctions bill, also urged “the White House to publicly release the text of the implementation agreement with Iran for all to review.”
When pressed by reporters on the subject during Monday’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney defended the embargo. However, he said members of Congress may eventually be permitted to view the deal, which provides Tehran with around $7 billion in sanctions relief while allowing it to continue enriching uranium.
“We are working with the P5+1, the EU, and the IAEA on releasing as much information to the public as we can about the technical arrangements,” Carney told reporters. “We fully expect to be able to share the text of the plan with Congress and are working with our international partners on how much and when we can share the information publicly and in what format.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed the nuclear accord over the weekend, claiming that “the big powers’ surrender[ed] to the great Iranian nation,” according to state-run media reports.
“The Geneva agreement means the global acceptance of Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology acquired through the young scientists’ efforts and sacrifices; the Geneva agreement means breaking the barrier of sanctions which were unjustly imposed on the dear and peace-loving Iranian nation,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the Fars News Agency.
Meanwhile, IAEA inspectors were scheduled to enter Tehran on Saturday. Though inspectors will be permitted access to some of Iran’s nuclear sites, there remains concern that critical areas will remain off limits.