Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Experts Strongly Urge Congress to Shelve Iran Nuclear Review Act Until a Final Deal Is Reached
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Experts Strongly Urge Congress to Shelve Iran Nuclear Review Act Until a Final Deal Is Reached

Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress has released an issue brief calling on Congress to delay consideration of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act until after the negotiations have concluded, pointing out that it would undermine ongoing negotiations crucial to advancing U.S. national security interests.

The negotiations between the P5+1—the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany—and Iran over Iran’s nuclear weapons program is entering what could be its most sensitive phase. The framework of a deal has been announced, opening the negotiations up to criticism on both sides for the first time just as negotiators are trying to preserve the quality of the framework in specific agreement language. The bill Congress is currently debating would undermine the president’s ability to implement any final deal reached and signal to the Iranian negotiators that the United States is not serious about upholding its side of any agreement.

“Congress should have a role in any plan to end Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon,” said Vikram Singh, CAP Vice President for National Security and International Policy. “However, nothing Congress does between now and the conclusion of the negotiations in June should undermine the process and weaken our negotiators as they try to get the strongest deal possible. The P5+1 are working on a global agreement responding to a global threat from Iran, and the U.S. Congress should focus on enforcing a good deal if one can be reached. If the negotiators accept a deal that Congress believes to be fatally flawed, it can still prevent implementation after June 30.”

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act has several major problems, the most acute of which is its ability to undermine the P5+1’s negotiating position and enhance Iran’s leverage. Interference from Congress in the form of a letter sent to Iranian officials by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) last month already negatively affected the talks, and an act of Congress would hold significantly more weight. The bill also includes a misguided terrorism certification that is designed to fail and automatically trigger all sanctions regardless of progress on the nuclear issue.

The brief offers ways to improve the Nuclear Agreement Review Act that would preserve Congress’ role without undermining the final phase of the talks before an agreement can be reached. They include:

  • Delaying the cloture vote until after June 30
  • Removing provisions that guarantee failure of even a strong agreement; these provisions include the removal of the president’s ability to waive and suspend sanctions, preventing sanctions relief if Congress does not adopt a joint resolution in support of the agreement, and requiring terrorism certification that is designed to never be met
  • Adding additional funding for U.S. intelligence agencies to support more robust monitoring and verification mechanisms of nuclear activity, and expediting a sanctions snapback mechanism

Click here to read the brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.