Secretary of State John Kerry and other top administration officials will face tough questions on the Iran deal at a Senate hearing Thursday, as lawmakers raise new concerns about alleged secret “side deals” struck with Tehran over its nuclear program.
“That we are only now discovering that parts of this dangerous agreement are being kept secret begs the question of what other elements may also be secret and entirely free from public scrutiny,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement.
Kerry briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, but skeptics of the deal appeared to emerge from the meeting with even more questions. Some lawmakers, like Cotton, vowed to fight to “kill this deal.”
But their latest concern is over the supposed side agreements. Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., first brought attention to them Tuesday, saying they learned from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that there were two “side deals” between Iran and the IAEA.
According to the lawmakers, one agreement covers inspection of the Parchin military complex, and the other concerns potential military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. On the former, they said, Iran would be able to strike a separate arrangement with the IAEA concerning inspections at Parchin.
House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Cotton and Pompeo in sending a letter to President Obama on Wednesday requesting that the agreements be made available to Congress so that they can be reviewed.
“We request you transmit these two side agreements to Congress immediately so we may perform our duty to assess the many important questions related to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” the letter says.
Kerry testifies alongside Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice, while defending the overall nuclear agreement, appeared to acknowledge the existence of the side deals on Wednesday. She said the matter of the Iran nuclear program’s “possible military dimensions” (PMD) has long been an issue between Iran and the IAEA. She said they “negotiated and concluded an agreement to deal with this issue of PMD, which was one of the major sticking points in our dealings.”