Letter from 354 Members of the House of Representatives to Secretary of State John Kerry

October 1, 2014

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

The Honorable John F. Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As the United States prepares for the resumption of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran to achieve a comprehensive nuclear agreement, we remain deeply concerned with Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.  As you know, the IAEA has sought information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device.
For several years, the IAEA has attempted to work with Iran to resolve this central issue, but Tehran has refused.  Last November, the IAEA and Iran concluded a “Framework for Cooperation” in which Iran agreed to work with the IAEA, including by providing satisfactory information in response to IAEA inquiries within mutually agreed deadlines.  Nevertheless, in its September 5, 2014 report, the IAEA stated that Iran had failed to meet its latest deadline, even as it continued to demolish structures and construct others at the Parchin military base, where clandestine nuclear-related activities have reportedly taken place.
We believe that Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement.  As you wrote in the Washington Post earlier this summer, if Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, “it’s not a hard proposition to prove.” The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.
We are concerned that an agreement that accepts Iran’s lack of transparency on this key issue would set the dangerous precedent that certain facilities and aspects of Iran’s nuclear program can be declared off limits by Tehran, resulting in additional wide-ranging restrictions on IAEA inspectors, and making effective verification virtually impossible.
A resolution of this issue is also essential to establishing a baseline regarding the status of the Iranian nuclear program.  Accurate predictions of the period of time needed by Iran to assemble a weapon and assessments of Iran’s compliance cannot be made without highly reliable information obtained from an unrestricted inspection and verification regime.  Such a baseline is also critical to developing more precise estimates on the time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability without detection.
We would like to achieve a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.  As negotiations resume, we urge you to carefully monitor Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA’s inquiry.  As you have written, there is a “discrepancy…between Iran’s professed intent with respect to its nuclear program and the actual content of that program to date.”  We agree with your assessment that “these issues cannot be dismissed; they must be addressed by the Iranians if a comprehensive solution is to be reached.”  An agreement that effectively prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability demands transparency on the extensive research and development work that Iran has undertaken in the past.