A delegation of House lawmakers has petitioned the White House to reassess its negotiations with Iran and to work more closely with Congress on the matter, according to a letter sent to President Obama on Wednesday that accuses the administration of doing little to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
The letter, jointly sent by 16 freshman House members, urges the White House to come clean about the terms of a recent framework agreement reached with Iran and to stop stonewalling Congressional attempts to exert its oversight authority on the deal, according to a copy of the letter viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
The letter comes as the Obama administration works to convince Congress and the American people that the agreement reached last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, would roll back Iran’s nuclear program.
In the days since the framework was announced, the United States and Iran have conveyed disparate stances about what was agreed to. Iran maintains that it made very few concessions and that its nuclear program will continue operating at near full capacity.
The freshmen lawmakers write in their letter that negotiations have failed to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
"Congress designed the [economic] sanctions against Iran in order to ensure that it give up its nuclear program, not bring Iran to the negotiating table," the letter states. "The current approach is not going to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities, and we have already seen the regime take measures that should have been considered in violation of the previous Joint Plan of Action."
The Obama administration should be reassessing "its objectives when it comes to the Iran nuclear negotiations and work closer with Congress to implement a strong and clear Iran policy," the lawmakers write.
They go on to request that the White House begin fully briefing Congress about the new framework agreement.
"As first-term members of Congress, we would also request that you provide a team to brief us on the current status of the negotiations; the terms of the framework agreement, as well as whether or not it has met its full obligations to the IAEA regarding any outstanding issues; Iran's nuclear infrastructure, including any possible military dimensions; and, provide more detail on the proposed lifting of sanctions at the [United Nations] Security Council as well as the U.S. imposed sanctions," the letter states.
Rather than pushing to delay the program, the administration should work to ensure that Iran fully dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, the lawmakers maintain.
"Allowing Iran to maintain its nuclear infrastructure rather than working toward its complete dismantlement jeopardizes the national interests of America, Israel, and other regional partners, and risks alienating us from our traditional allies," they write. "The parameters for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) fail to take into account the full threat that Iran poses to the world."
"Iran's nuclear program does not exist in a vacuum and focusing only on the nuclear profile and ignoring Iran's continued support for terrorism, its abysmal human rights record, its continued pursuit of intercontinental ballistic missiles and weaponization technology, its regional hegemonic ambitions and its failure to comply fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is myopic," the letter states.
One congressional source familiar with the letter told the Free Beacon that the freshman lawmakers who signed the letter are seeking to draw a line in the sand when it comes to Iran and the White House’s ongoing diplomacy.
"It's a good way for them to establish themselves on the issue and to send the administration a message," the source said. "They're telling the administration that, though they weren't in Congress when this process began, they’re not going to abdicate or defer their role in shaping this thing."
The lawmakers are "laying down a marker and showing that they view this as one of, if not the most, important national security issues facing the U.S., that Congress still has a central role to play here and that they plan on being fully engaged," the source added. "There’s clearly still a significant disconnect between the president and Congress when it comes to the new framework agreement, and this is just another sign to the administration that it can expect some serious opposition to what many view as a capitulation to the Iranian regime."