United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Hearing: Recent Iranian Actions and Implementation of the Nuclear Deal
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman
I want to thank our witness for testifying today. Ambassador [Thomas] Shannon, we congratulate you on your confirmation. We appreciate your continued service to our country, and we look forward to working with you in this capacity.
Today, we are looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the implementation of the JCPOA and relations with Iran.
I think all of us have been, and remain, skeptical of Iran. Many of us were, and remain, skeptical of the nuclear deal.
There is also bipartisan frustration with the perception that previous commitments made by the administration are not squaring with reality.
Secretary [of State John] Kerry told us that the ballistic missile test ban would stay in place despite language suggesting otherwise. He testified before this committee that “the exact same language in the previous embargo is in the agreement with respect to launches.”
We challenged them - I think you probably tuned in to those [hearings] - when the “called upon” language was put in place, saying we felt that that weakened the agreement. They pushed back strongly. As it turns out, we were right. And that’s very concerning.
Now, if I could, our European friends wrote a letter saying it was “inconsistent” instead of saying it was in “violation”, in many ways supporting Iran’s position. So, that was very disappointing.
Ambassador [Stephen] Mull confirmed that launches would be a violation of the new U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) when he testified in December, saying the “called upon” language would violate UNSCR 2231.
Obviously, the U.N. Security Council didn’t view it that way – very different than what we’ve been told.
There is lots of speculation that Iran will soon get some type of access to transactions involving the U.S. dollar. We would like to get your assurance that the dollar is not in the cards for Iran.
I did have a very good call yesterday with [Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence] Adam Szubin. He assured me that that was not the case.
And then this morning, Secretary Kerry is on a television program acting as if that is going to be the case – that we are going to find some accommodation.
So, I felt very reassured yesterday in talking to Adam that we were not “U-turning” U.S. dollars, [that] we were not going to be involved in helping them, if you will, outside the agreement.
And yet, this morning, it seemed that Secretary Kerry indicated that we were. So, I’d love to have your response to that.
There are also questions about whether or not the administration would consider new, legitimate, sanctions authority on the violation of the JCPOA.
I think you know that there is bipartisan support for new sanctions authority in response to Iran’s repeated ballistic missile launches.
Previous assurances, including some by the president, clearly stated that we deserved the right to take new steps should we need to push back harder against Iran’s non-nuclear behavior.
I think the repeated ballistic missile launches and desire to purchase all types of weapons from Russia prove that an increased push back is necessary.
I hope you can help us answer some of these outstanding questions in a constructive manner so that we may know what the administration is thinking regarding these important matters.
With that, again, I want to thank you for your service. I’m glad you were confirmed in the timeframe that you were. We appreciate you being here. And with that, I’ll turn over to our distinguished ranking member, [Senator] Ben Cardin.