Most House members endorse call for overview of any Iran deal

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Nearly 80 percent of House members signed a letter to President Obama urging close consultation with the Congress in the event of an Iran nuclear deal.

“As the July 20th deadline for a ‘comprehensive solution’ to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon approaches, we urge greater consultation with Congress on a potential sanctions relief package that may be part of a final agreement,” said the letter sent Thursday endorsed by 342 of the U.S. House of Representatives’ 435 members.

Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), respectively the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, initiated the letter.

The Obama administration has resisted efforts by Congress to increase its oversight over the talks between Iran and the major powers aimed at keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have said that any sanctions relief would require congressional approval, although a number of outside experts have said that Obama could provide relief through executive actions.

The letter also posits that any lifting of sanctions should be linked not only to Iran’s compliance with a nuclear deal, but with other practices that have made it a target for sanctions.

“Almost all sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are also related to Tehran’s advancing ballistic missile program, intensifying support for international terrorism, and other unconventional weapons programs,” the letter said.

“Iran’s permanent and verifiable termination of all of these activities — not just some — is a prerequisite for permanently lifting most congressionally-mandated sanctions. This often unnoted reality necessitates extensive engagement with Congress before offers of relief are made to Iran, and requires Congressional action if sanctions are to be permanently lifted.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee backed the letter.