WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, March 10, 2022, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Elaine Luria (VA-2), and Tom Reed (NY-23) led a bipartisan group of 21 total Members of Congress urging the Administration to address concerns surrounding the looming agreement with Iran. With reports indicating that the Vienna negotiations are nearing conclusion, there are several critical concerning issues that remain on the table — including the potential lifting of the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and of sanctions placed on the Supreme Leader.
The full signatory list of 21 Members includes Josh Gottheimer, Elaine Luria, Tom Reed, Don Bacon, Jim Costa, Brian Fitzpatrick, Jared Golden, Vicente Gonzalez, Anthony Gonzalez, Jaime Herrera Beutler, David P. Joyce, Susie Lee, Peter Meijer, Dan Meuser, Donald Norcross, Dean Phillips, Darren Soto, Haley Stevens, Thomas R. Suozzi, Fred Upton, and Juan Vargas..
Dear Mr. President:
Since the beginning of this Administration, we have hoped that renewed negotiations with Iran would achieve a longer and stronger agreement than the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), with clear nuclear restrictions and provisions addressing Iran’s international terror and missile programs.
Among other issues, we are highly concerned about reports indicating the potential lifting of the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and of the sanctions placed on members of the office of the Supreme Leader. Without adequately addressing Iran’s role as the world’s leading state-sponsor of terror — which was noticeably absent from the 2015 JCPOA — and simultaneously providing billions of dollars in sanctions relief, the United States would be providing a clear path for Iranian proxies to continue fueling terrorism.
In his nomination hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken committed to maintaining terrorism-related sanctions on Iran. Lifting, waiving, or rescinding terrorism-related sanctions will violate his previous commitment to Congress.
We will review any agreement closely, but from what we currently understand, it is hard to envision supporting an agreement along the lines being publicly discussed. As the State Department has often noted in reference to a nuclear agreement with Iran, “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” We hope that no agreement is finalized without additionally addressing these concerns. Our support will be contingent largely on satisfactory answers to the following questions. We would appreciate it if you would brief us on the below questions within the next week:
- Will an agreement be presented to Congress pursuant to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA)? Regardless of any substance, the law and proper oversight role of Congress must be respected.
- What will Iran’s breakout time be when the agreement is implemented?
- What will Iran’s breakout time be in January 2024, and each subsequent year until 2031? In calculating breakout time, please assume that Iran carries out the maximum allowable uranium enrichment activity pursuant to the JCPOA.
- Is there a consensus within the U.S. government on these breakout time figures? If not, please detail the differing views within the Administration. Similarly, is there consensus on these figures by our international partners? If not, please provide details on any differing views amongst our allies.
- Will Russia gain any economic benefit from an Iran agreement?
- If Iran subsequently believes the agreement has been violated, or that it has not received the promised sanctions relief, will Russia be in a position to return enriched uranium to Iran? In essence, will Vladimir Putin become the de facto judge of compliance with an agreement?
- How much money will Iran gain immediate access to when a deal is announced? What is the estimated value of sanctions relief in year one of the agreement, and for each subsequent year through 2031? If there are differing views on these figures within the Administration, please provide details on these differences.
- Does the Administration intend to request Congress pass legislation to lift the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) in 2023 as required by the JCPOA? If Congress does not lift ISA, what actions does the Administration expect from Iran?
- Does the Administration support the lifting of U.N. Security Council prohibitions on outside support to Iran’s ballistic missile program? Such prohibitions are currently set to occur in October 2023 pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2231.
- The snapback mechanism in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 expires in 2025. What recourse will the U.S. have should Iran violate the agreement after that time?
- Does the Administration intend to remove the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of the IRGC? Will sanctions on the IRGC in any other way be diminished?
- Will sanctions targeting the Supreme Leader, his office, subordinates, or associated foundations be lifted or lessened in any way?
- Will sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran be lifted or lessened in any way? If so, can the Administration certify that the CBI has in no way been engaged in any support for terrorism in facilitation of transactions for terrorist entities (including the IRGC) in the past year?
- Will sanctions be lifted, or lessened in any way, on any other entity or individual that has engaged in support for terrorism, or been designated under Executive Order 13224 for providing material support to a designated terrorist entity?
- Will Iran be required to satisfactorily answer outstanding questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the discovery of undisclosed uranium particles at multiple cites?
- Will U.S. human rights programing in Iran continue subsequent to an agreement?
Thank you for your leadership and for your consideration of these questions. We look forward to your response.
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
cc: The Honorable Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State