House Presses Kerry on Iran Nuke Inspections
JERUSALEM, Israel -- More than 80 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry raising concern about Iran's refusal to cooperate with international nuclear inspectors.
The bi-partisan letter was sent Thursday evening under the leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, and ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.
Top House Republicans were among the 354 House members who signed the letter, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer also signed the missive.
Congress sent the letter nearly a month after U.N. officials announced that Iran had failed to disclose information about nuclear weapons research by an internationally imposed deadline.
This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned both the United Nations and President Barack Obama that the world must prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.
Lawmakers told Kerry, "We believe that Iran's willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran's intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement. As you wrote in The Washington Post earlier this summer, if Iran's nuclear program is truly peaceful, 'it's not a hard proposition to prove.' The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.'"
The letter continued, "We are concerned that an agreement that accepts Iran's lack of transparency on this key issue would set the dangerous precedent that certain facilities and aspects of Iran's nuclear program can be declared off limits by Tehran...making verification virtually impossible.
A number of legislators on Capitol Hill share Israel's concern that Obama's multi-national efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria could distract from the more pressing matter of keeping close scrutiny of Iran's nuclear program.
Meetings between Iran and six world powers are scheduled to start up again in Europe in the coming days.