The Iran nuclear agreement includes two secret side deals covering a key Iranian military site and other past arms activities, according to two lawmakers who are demanding that Congress be granted access to the documents.
The secret agreements were reached between Iran and the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) on Tehran’s past nuclear arms work and are a central component of the Vienna accord reached by Iran, the United States, and five other states.
Recent Stories in National Security
A key part of the nuclear agreement requires Iran to disclose all military nuclear arms work before international sanctions are lifted. The IAEA has until December to report on the past military activities.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, (R., Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee, said in an interview he first learned of the secret side deals by questioning IAEA officials.
Pompeo, who first revealed the agreements along with Sen. Tom Cotton, (R., Ark.), said there may be additional secret pacts the Obama administration has not disclosed to Congress as required by legislation covering congressional review of the Iran nuclear agreement.
The agreements deal with access to Iran’s military facility at Parchin, a military site that was excluded from the public text of the Vienna agreement reached July 14. A second secret accord outlines how past nuclear arms work by Iran will be addressed.
"It’s outrageous," said Pompeo of the secret agreements, noting that other members of the six-nation agreement may already have been briefed on the side deals.
"We have asked for information from the intelligence community and the State Department about these agreements," Pompeo said.
At the State Department Wednesday, spokesman John Kirby disputed the lawmakers claims and said "Congress has what we have." The side agreements in question are "IAEA documents" that are not part of the formal agreement, the spokesman told reporters.
"There's no side deals. There's no secret deals between Iran and the IAEA that the P5- plus-1 has not been briefed on in detail," Kirby said.
Kirby called the IAEA accords "technical arrangements" that are standard practice by the agency. The documents will not be released publicly or to other states.
"But our experts are familiar and comfortable with the contents, which we would be happy to discuss with Congress in a classified setting," Kirby said.
The issue was expected to be raised during closed-door briefings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Kirby said.
Congress has been provided with copies of all materials related to what is dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, including annexes and a verification assessment, he said.
White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice echoed Kirby’s comments that all Iran deal documents were given to Congress.
"These [IAEA-Iran] documents are not public, but nonetheless, we have been briefed on those documents, we know their contents, we're satisfied with them and we will share the contents of those briefings in full in a classified session with the Congress," Rice said. "So there's nothing in that regard that we know that they won't know."
Pompeo said the administration may be seeking to provide Iran with a face-saving measure after Iran publicly announced all its military facilities would be off-limits to international nuclear inspectors.
"It may well be that this was an attempt to give political cover for Iranian negotiators, but in some sense, that’s not my problem," he said.
Diplomacy is no excuse for preventing Congress, as representatives of the American people, from fully understanding what has taken place in the past at Iran’s nuclear facility at Parchin and other verification issues, Pompeo said.
"This is one of the central questions of the agreement," he added. "We need to see these agreements before we vote."
Parchin is the location near Tehran where, according to the IAEA, Iran is suspected of carrying out nuclear arms testing, and specifically high-explosives testing of the type needed to create a nuclear blast.
Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the secret deals must be disclosed to Congress.
"The administration says this deal isn't about trusting Iran, but that is exactly what it's asking Congress and the American people to do if side deals related to the Parchin military facility and possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program are kept secret," Cotton told the Washington Free Beacon.
"My colleagues and I are demanding that the president produce these side agreements for congressional review," he said. "It is hard to see how Congress can fulfill its duties if it's kept in the dark about significant portions of the nuclear deal."
IAEA Director Yukiya Amano announced July 14 that Iran had agreed to a "road-map" accord that would resolve past nuclear arms work.
Pompeo and Cotton said the IAEA secret side agreements govern Parchin inspections and terms for how Iran will satisfy the IAEA’s questions about past nuclear arms work.
Those question are outlined in a November 2011 IAEA report. The report lists the following outstanding nuclear weapons questions:
- Procurement of nuclear and dual-use civilian-military equipment and materials by the Iranian military;
- Development of undeclared methods for producing nuclear material;
- Acquisition of nuclear weapons information and documents from a secret nuclear supplier network; and,
- Indigenous design work on a nuclear weapons and testing of components.
Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act that requires the administration to provide Congress with all documents, including "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," according to the law signed by the president.
Pompeo called the agreement "the worst of backroom deals."
Not providing access to the side deals violates the law and indicates the administration is "asking Congress to agree to a deal that it cannot review."
Said Cotton: "That we are only now discovering that parts of this dangerous agreement are being kept secret begs the question of what other elements may also be secret and entirely free from public scrutiny."