Two U.S. Congressmen Want Bipartisan Commission to Oversee Iranian Nuclear Deal, Insist on Evidence

Two congressmen have introduced legislation seeking to create a bipartisan commission in the style of the Helsinki Commission that oversees relations with Europe to verify whether Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal before President Donald Trump can make good on his campaign promise to scrap it, The Hill reports.

Representatives Gerry Connolly and Francis Rooney  are seeking to set up a commission of 16 members of Congress and four representatives of the executive branch – of departments of State, Energy, Treasury and Defense – who would together examine intelligence data and draw a conclusion regarding Iran’s compliance with the agreement.

“Increasing public transparency surrounding the Iran deal’s implementation is a critical priority. Congress has a role to play in effective oversight of this agreement, and we must assert that role regardless of whether the president certifies Iran’s compliance. This commission ensures that the effort to constrain the Iranian nuclear program receives the attention it deserves,” Connolly said in a statement Wednesday.

The members of Congress would be appointed by the Republican and Democratic leadership of each chamber, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees.

“Iran cannot be trusted to act in good faith or be allowed to move forward with development of nuclear weapons. This bill is a good first step in ensuring that Iran acts within the boundaries of the agreement that was previously made,” Rooney said in a statement.

In a joint statement, Rooney and Connolly said creating the commission would tell Iran and U.S. allies that America is committed to ensuring Iran remains in compliance.

“Congress should act immediately to advance one of the rare proposals on Capitol Hill that has garnered support from both sides of the heated JCPOA debate,” they said.

The proposal comes amid reports that Trump may decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal next month, when Washington’s certification deadline matures. CBS News reported last week that the president is leaning toward the decision.

“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities,” Trump told the UN General Assembly last week, citing Tehran’s support for Hezbollah, the Syrian government as well as for Shia Houthis in the Yemeni civil war.

The nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has to be re-assessed every 90 days by the U.S. president in accordance with a Congress-created mechanism. The next deadline is set for October 15. If Trump decides to decertify, Congress will have 60 days to vote on re-imposing sanctions lifted under the pact in exchange for Tehran capping its nuclear program.

Under the terms of the deal, Iran agreed to reduce the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds; cap its enrichment below the level needed for weapons-grade material; reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent from around 10,000kg for 15 years; and allow international inspections.