House Republicans on Thursday announced legislation to alter the Iran nuclear deal after President Donald Trump threatened to terminate the agreement when it comes up for recertification in April if lawmakers failed to toughen its provisions.
The measure, introduced by Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Peter Roskam of Illinois, would impose an indefinite ban on ballistic missile development and require Tehran to permit "anytime, anywhere" inspections of suspected nuclear facilities.
The nuclear accord currently gives Iran up to 24 days to grant international inspectors access to a suspicious site, a provision Iran hawks have long said could buy time for Tehran to hide evidence of nuclear activity.
The new legislation would also enforce a permanent ban on Iran even nearing a path to a nuclear weapon. U.S. sanctions would immediately snap back against the regime if it did anything "to enable Iran to produce sufficient weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear weapon in under 12 months," the bill says.
Cheney, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said the accord crafted by the Obama administration is "the most damaging agreement our country has ever entered" and fails to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Cheney told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday the new legislation "establishes the minimum requirements that must be in any verifiable agreement in order to obtain future sanctions relief."
"Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror, must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, and we must no longer gamble our nation's security on a dangerous agreement that provides only a false sense of security." Cheney said.
The bill also slaps sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses and its ongoing support for terrorism.
On the Senate side, Sens. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D., Md.) are working on legislation to hold Iran accountable for its continued ballistic missile construction and other destabilizing activities. That bill has so far failed to gain traction among conservative Republicans and Iran hardliners who say the measure it too weak and mainly serves to prevent Trump from blowing it up.
"If what we hear about the Corker-Cardin process is true, then it doesn't do enough to deal with the present Iranian missile threat," said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
"I think the intention driving the House bill is to more assiduously plug loopholes in the deal and to very tightly rewrite the conditions under which the U.S. grants sanctions release to Iran and to make sure the most likely delivery vehicle toward an Iranian nuke, which is a ballistic missile, is taken into account," Taleblu said.
Trump again waived nuclear-related sanctions on Iran last week, but warned it was the "last chance" for Congress to fix the accord's "disastrous flaws," threatening an American withdrawal.
U.S. law requires the president to notify Congress every 90 days on whether Iran is adhering to the accord. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified Iran's compliance and the regime last week said it would reject any changes to the deal.