U.S. lawmaker concerns persisted about talks with Iran following Thursday’s circulation of details about the new interim deal, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Obama administration summarized publicly the technical understanding reached this week with Iran, and provided to U.S. lawmakers what the Journal described as the full 30-page text. While the implementation road map is unclassified, U.S. officials said its text could be reviewed only by members of Congress and their top aides with security clearances.
Congressional insiders said the elaboration about this week’s technical understanding probably would not go far in quelling controversy over a Senate sanctions push that the White House warns could thwart diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program. The Middle Eastern nation on Sunday finalized plans with six other countries for enforcing a half-year nuclear accord reached in November.
A number of legislative aides said the more detailed materials sent to Congress do not fully explain how outside powers could find Iran to be in breach of the November pact. Last year’s deal, which is scheduled to take effect on Monday, imposes a number of restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities and provides it with limited relief from punitive economic measures.
“The most disconcerting thing is how vague it is — there is no clear compliance mechanism in place,” the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed Senate aide as said.
Lawmakers also have raised a related concern that Iran could gain undue authority to judge its own compliance with the accord through its role in a planned “joint commission.”
The Los Angeles Times in a Thursday report described the secret technical agreement provided to Capitol Hill as being just nine pages long, in contrast to the 30 pages of text described by the Wall Street Journal.
One high-level Senate staffer told the Times that legislators almost certainly would want more details than just received.
“It’s nine pages long — what on earth?” the insider said.
It was not immediately clear how to square the differences in the two newspapers’ descriptions.
An Iranian diplomat this week said the sides had negotiated a 30-page addendum to the enforcement plan. Obama administration officials, though, have rejected contentions that there are undisclosed understandings.
Meanwhile, some members of Congress said they were more worried after receiving specifics about the deal on Thursday from U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Washington’s senior delegate in the nuclear discussions, Reuters reported.
“I’m more disturbed more than ever after the briefing,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one backer of an Iran-sanctions bill under consideration in the upper chamber.
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