After reviewing an Obama administration report on the Iran nuclear weapons deal, congressional lawmakers worry that the United States and fellow world powers that brokered the agreement will never address all suspicions regarding the country’s nuclear program.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the document from the White House issued last week suggested Iran would never admit to having a covert nuclear weapons program, and that such an admission is not necessary to ensure the country does not continue to pursue an atomic weapon under the recently finalized nuclear arms agreement.
"An Iranian admission of its past nuclear weapons program is unlikely and is not necessary for purposes of verifying commitments going forward," the Obama administration report read. "U.S. confidence on this front is based in large part on what we believe we already know about Iran’s past activities."
Congress has 60 days to review the agreement, which would lift international sanctions on Iran while allowing the country to press on with crucial elements of its nuclear work, research, and development.
President Obama has said he will veto an effort by the House and Senate to reject the agreement.
Lawmakers and nuclear experts have said they do not have great faith that the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), tasked with investigating Iran’s past nuclear program, will complete its probe in the allotted time. The deal stipulates that Iran must grant the U.N. inspectors access to its scientists and military sites by the middle of October, and that the IAEA must publish the report by the end of 2015.
The details of the investigation are spelled out in a secret deal between Iran and the IAEA, but lawmakers complained that the Obama administration officials have suggested Iran would have a role in managing the investigation.
U.S. and IAEA officials have refused to disclose private details of the agreement about the investigation. A senior U.S. official insisted that "an admission of what Iran did in the past is scientifically not needed to evaluate Iran’s compliance with the [agreement] in the future." Outside experts, however, contend that past nuclear work is necessary to verify the fresh agreement.
While the Obama administration says that sanctions will not be lifted until the investigation is adequately concluded, Iran officials have disputed this stipulation, saying that the IAEA investigation is separate from the larger nuclear arms deal.
A separate report in the Wall Street Journal revealed another significant concession to Iran made by the European Union (EU).
In the finalized deal, the EU agreed to remove a retired Iranian military officer from its sanctions list who is wanted by Interpol because of his suspected role in a 1994 terrorist bombing in Argentina that killed 85 people.
In addition to retired Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s former minister of defense, the EU also agreed to take multiple former Iranian military leaders, nuclear scientists and military institutions off of the sanctions list within eight years.