Menendez Concerns on Iran Deal Include IAEA Committee Dismissal, Sanctions Snapback Options

Menendez Concerns on Iran Deal Include IAEA Committee Dismissal, Sanctions Snapback Options

In Two Days of Hearings, Menendez Expresses Dissatisfaction at IAEA Reply to Committee Chair & Sanctions Language in Iran Letter to UN

WASHINGTON, DC – At two Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) brought up concerns that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) refused to appear before the Committee members and that the sanctions snapback options were ruled out by Iran in a letter to the U.N.

At today’s hearing, Menendez referred to a request from Committee Chair Bob Corker to the IAEA to appear before the Committee. Menendez said he is “deeply disappointed” the IAEA declined to meet with the Senators in any setting – public, private or classified – and that the decision puts American safety on the line.

July 30, 2015: Q&A
IAEA & Iran Letter to UN

At Wednesday's hearing, the Senator read from a July 20th letter from Iran to the U.N., citing section six that states:

“It is understood that reintroduction or reimposition, including through extension, of the sanctions and restrictive measures will constitute significant non-performance which would relieve Iran from its commitments in part or in whole... The JCPOA requires an effective end to all discriminatory compliance measures and procedures as well as public statements inconsistent with the intent of the agreement.”

Menendez summarized: “The Iranians are saying if you just simply reauthorize [the sanctions] — with all the waiver options that the President has — [Iran] will consider it a violation."

Menendez said the letter indicates that Iran agreed to the deal with terms dictating that sanctions will go away completely and unequivocally. Additionally, Menendez said his reading of the letter implies that if Congress were to set up new sanctions – or reauthorize the sanctions regime in place – Iran would be free from all commitments under the JCPOA. 

Nicholas Burns – a former undersecretary of state in the Bush administration who largely supports the Iran deal – responded to Menendez saying: "I would hope that the Administration would challenge that letter, and I don't think we would have to abide by it.”

Menendez conducted two rounds of questions at the hearing; videos of both interactions can be found below.

July 29, 2015: Q&A 1

July 29, 2015: Q&A 2