July 29, 2014

Corker: Obama Administration Won’t Commit to Seeking Congressional Review of Final Iran Nuclear Deal

WASHINGTON – During questioning today at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing regarding Iran nuclear negotiations, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, exposed the administration’s willingness to sign a final agreement with Iran without seeking review and approval from Congress. In testimony before the committee, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman instead only committed to consulting with Congress on the negotiations, a departure from Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony to the committee in April.

“If you are asking…whether we are going to come to Congress for legislative action to affirm a comprehensive agreement, we believe as other administrations do that the executive branch has the authority to take such executive action on this kind of a political understanding that might be reached with Iran,” said Sherman, who further would not commit to ending negotiations on November 24, 2014, the end date for the four-month extended negotiating period.

“I think the world understands that is a zero commitment, and it’s not in keeping with what Secretary Kerry said on April the 8th,” Corker said in response. “I know the goal posts keep moving, and I think you can continue this hearing as evidence of why so many of us have the concerns that we have.”

Corker also took issue with the administration’s decision not to count Iranian shipments of oil condensate or gifts of oil to Syria against the cap on Iran’s allowable crude oil exports under the interim agreement. Iran is currently exporting on average 1.4 million barrels per day, significantly above the 1.1 million barrel limit.

“It is our assessment…that we will be within range of one to 1.1 million barrels per day, which is what in fact we had said would be the aggregate amount,” said Sherman. “Now some of the public data that is published includes two elements that aren’t part of that assessment.”    

“They are shipping oil to Syria instead of sending them money,” added Corker. “They’re working against us in that regard, and you don’t count that as an export? I just find that to be ludicrous.”

Last week, Corker introduced legislation requiring congressional review of any final agreement with Iran. The bill also would prevent further extensions of the negotiations, strictly enforce Iran’s compliance, and prevent implementation of a final agreement if a veto-proof majority of Congress disapproves of the deal.