94 House Members Pen Letter Exposing Obama’s ‘Legal Obligation’ to Release Iran Nuclear Side Deals

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy / AP
• August 10, 2015 5:15 pm


Members of the House of Representatives penned a letter to President Obama last week demanding the president fulfill his "legal obligation" to provide Congress with details of the side deals related to the Iran nuclear arms agreement.

No fewer than two undisclosed agreements have been reached between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the organization responsible for ensuring that Tehran abides by the stipulations in the deal.

Finalized during the negotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the secret deals have to do with the IAEA’s inspection of Iran’s Parchin military complex believed to have housed nuclear testing as well as the extent to which Tehran must admit to the details of its alleged nuclear weapons program.

In the letter, dated August 4 and signed by 94 members of the House of Representatives, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and fellow congressional lawmakers labeled the lack of details regarding the side agreements "no small matter."

They stress that Obama’s withholding of such information violates the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a law he signed in May before the final nuclear agreement was reached in Vienna that requires congressional lawmakers to view all documents of the nuclear agreement.

They wrote:

Under the clear language of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which you signed into law, members of Congress are entitled to the text of these two side deals.  Specifically, members have a right to all "annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future."  Congress’s legal right to these documents creates a corresponding legal obligation for your administration to provide them for our review.

The House lawmakers emphasize that Congress maintains the "right and duty" to examine each document relating to the Iran deal in order to conclude at the end of its 60-day review period "whether or not it merits our support."

"We request that you provide the text of these side deals to Congress as expeditiously as possible. If you do not possess these documents, we request that you immediately secure them from the IAEA and then provide them to Congress," McCarthy and his colleagues concluded.

The letter comes just days after Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal accusing the president of breaking the law by refusing to disclose the secret agreements.

Cotton and Pompeo, the latter of whom signed the most recent letter, also wrote a letter to Obama at the end of July demanding he release the details of the side deals.

The president, who is currently on a 17-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, has thus far declined to respond. He is, however, continuously selling the nuclear agreement, having pre-taped interviews with various news outlets so that he can tout the deal without interrupting his summer break.

Members of the House and Senate have until mid-September to review the deal. Lawmakers would have to pass a resolution to kill the agreement, which would need two-thirds majority support in order to override a veto from Obama.

A majority of House lawmakers back a resolution to reject the nuclear arms deal with Iran, a measure led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), one of the authors of the most recent letter to Obama. Meanwhile, Americans oppose the agreement by a 2-to-1 margin, according to polling released last week.

Prominent congressional Democrats such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) have also pledged to vote against the deal.

Obama has vowed to veto any effort by Congress to reject it.