July 12, 2015

Corker on NBC’s Meet the Press: Iran Nuclear Talks Have “Been on a Downward Trend for Some Time”

WASHINGTON – Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emphasized the “downward trend” of the Iran nuclear negotiations as U.S. demands shifted from ending Iran’s nuclear program to constraining their enrichment capability.

“I think [the negotiations have] been on a downward trend for some time. We really crossed the rubicon when we went from dismantling their program to managing their proliferation,” said Corker. “I'm concerned about where we're going.”

He pointed to some of the key issues for evaluation if a final agreement is reached and submitted for mandatory congressional review.

“We've got to ensure that this is verifiable, that we have anytime, anywhere inspections, that [Iran is held] accountable, that we know what their previous military dimensions were,” Corker said. “And we need to make sure it is enforceable.”

He also anticipated members of Congress would “vote their conscience” on an agreement, basing their decision on whether a deal is good or bad for the country rather than on international pressure.

“I think people understand that if this is a bad deal that is going to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they would own this deal if they voted for it. And so they’ll want to disapprove it,” said Corker. “But I think at the end of the day people will vote their conscience. I don't think they’ll worry about what the other nations are doing.”

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (Public Law 114-17), authored by Corker, prevents the president from waiving or suspending congressional sanctions before Congress has the chance to vote on an agreement, if one is reached.

Without the law, there would have been no limitation on the president’s use of waivers to suspend the sanctions Congress put in place; no requirement that Congress receive full details of any agreement with Iran; no review period for Congress to examine and weigh in on an agreement; no requirement that the president regularly certify Iran is complying; and no way for Congress to rapidly reimpose sanctions should Iran cheat.

The review period does not begin until all documents associated with an agreement are submitted to Congress along with assessments on compliance and non-proliferation. If a deal is received between July 10 and September 7, Congress will have 60 days for the initial review. Twelve additional days are provided if the House and Senate send a joint resolution to the president, and 10 more days are allowed for Congress to override a presidential veto.