U.S. House overwhelmingly passes bill giving Congress oversight of Iran deal

The Iran nuclear program's heavy-water reactor at Arak. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which would give Congress a 30-day period to review a final nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, in a 400-25 vote. The bill, which was previously passed in a 98-1 Senate vote, now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said in a statement after the bill's House passage that it “continues to support diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement that prevents Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability,” but added that it has “many serious concerns about the framework agreement [reached between Iran and world powers] that have only deepened since it was announced last month.”

“These concerns include the issues of infrastructure dismantlement, pace of sanctions relief, disclosure of prior weaponization efforts, inspections procedures, and the duration of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program,” AIPAC said. “The Iran review legislation assures Congress a means to scrutinize and evaluate how these issues are addressed in any nuclear weapons agreement.”

Obama is expected to approve the oversight bill after initially vowing to veto a version of the legislation that gave Congress twice as long—60 days—to review a nuclear deal. A bipartisan compromise in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also modified language in the bill that had eased Congress’s ability to re-impose sanctions on Iran if the Islamic Republic was found complicit in supporting terrorism, among other changes. The existing version of the legislation, however, maintains that Obama cannot waive sanctions during the Congressional review period.

The deadline for a final nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 nations is June 30.

“Congress is in a position to effectively and decisively judge and constrain President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, should a bad deal be struck,” U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said Thursday.

"Of course, we all hope that Iran's march toward a nuclear weapon can be diplomatically stopped," added Royce. "This legislation should strengthen the administration's hand at the negotiating table, but Secretary [of State John] Kerry must put its added leverage to use immediately so that the U.S. can gain much-needed ground in the negotiations over the next two months."

Posted on May 14, 2015 .