Chambliss Urges Strict Congressional Oversight of Iran Nuclear Deal


This is how one should respond to the recent deal with Iran. The deal isn’t an historic failure or an historic break through. It’s a a short term deal to start the comprehensive talks over the next six months. Diplomacy is a tango: there needs to be give and take, carrot and stick. Too much of one or the other and the deal falls through. Asking for reports to verify the deal is the smart move. You get to look like the sober statesman that isn’t always opposed to the tool of diplomacy instead of looking like a knee jerk reactionary or a chicken hawk (one of my new favorites thanks to Stephen Walt).

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today sent a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez (D-Fla.) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) urging them to use existing authority to request a report from the Secretary of State on the verifiability of the administration’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran. The letter was signed by U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and several other members of the Senate Intelligence, Armed Services and Banking Committees.

Current law states that the chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may request a report from the Secretary of State on the verifiability of any arms control, nonproliferation, or disarmament proposal. The senators are urging that the committee request this report and make it available to the Senate Committees on Intelligence, Armed Services, and Banking, all of which maintain important oversight of this issue.

In the letter to Senators Menendez and Corker, the group of eight senators wrote, “Verification and compliance, as well as the fortitude to publicly identify and address non-compliance, represent the foundation of any successful arms control or disarmament agreement. We respectfully urge you to request this verification assessment from the Secretary of State and to make this report available to the Senate Committees on Intelligence, Armed Services, and Banking. Given Iran’s history of non-compliance, we believe this is not only a prudent step, but a sensible and necessary element of congressional oversight.”

In addition to Senators Chambliss and Inhofe, the letter was signed by Senators Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and David Vitter (R-La.).

Click here for a copy of the full letter.

13 comments

  1. Jon Lester says:

    Except he’s firmly in the camp that would rather ruin the whole thing than give it a chance, consequences be damned. Much as Bill Clinton’s Iraq policy looked so unsatisfactory, up until Bush came along and made it orders of magnitude worse (though not without establishment Democrats enabling, which is why I’m sure Zaxby’s other half, DiFi, will make similar noises any minute now).

    Anyway, I hope our next senator will have some appreciation for the basic facts of nuclear science, particularly that it’s more certain now than before that the Iranians won’t have much opportunity to enrich any usable amount of uranium to 90%, even independently of other, obvious considerations for their national interest. I also hope our next senator will recognize that it’s time to stop letting Israel and the Sunni monarchies of the GCC manipulate us for their ulterior motives, all of which are counter to our own best interests.

    • TheEiger says:

      You speak of wanting our next senator to have the basic facts of nuclear science yet you cannot even spell our current senator’s name correctly?

      Also, you know so much about nuclear science, but you seem to leave out the heavy water reactor that Iran is perusing to make weapons grade plutonium. There is only one reason for plutonium and that is a big bomb.

      http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323997004578644140963633244

      Why does Iran need plutonium Jon? That’s right. They want to build a bomb. Please stop being so naive.

      • Eric The Younger says:

        Doesn’t really matter what they want. The NPT guarantees them the right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. As long as there is nothing being diverted to a military purpose they can and should be allowed to proceed. There are currently around 35 countries that have nuclear infrastructure that could build a functional warhead in less than a year.

        But then again I’m on the Waltz side of the Waltz and Sagan debates. Should they violate the NPT, and build a weapon it could be a good thing. Nuclear weapons can be a stabilizing force and the system is trying to stabilize. Look at India and Pakistan after their mutual acquisition. There hasn’t really been a flare up since 1999.

  2. Eric The Younger says:

    He may be hoping for the deal to fail, but his public posturing is the right way to go about things. Dan Drezner over at Foreign Policy had a great post about the deal with how various opponents should respond. http://goo.gl/YaFD82. Of the other [possibilities that have been expressed by various members of congress, I find this a better alternative.

    As for the GCC and Israel, good luck. Walt and Mearsheimer’s book “The Israel Lobby” explains why that relationship will be very difficult to change or even challenge. With the GCC monarchies, they are often more reliant on the US for defense then they would care to admit. Most of their police and military forces are for show and not effectiveness. While they may have some disagreement outwardly, the underlying relationship is still there.

    The recent antics with SA, seem to be the beginnings of a break in that tradition and the President may have done a through job of poisoning that relationship. We’ll have to see over the next couple years.

  3. gcp says:

    Well this may be a first for me but I agree with Trick Knee Chambliss on this one. How do we verify this agreement? My NBC/CBR days are long ago but I do know it doesn’t take too much time to enrich to weapons grade from where the Iranians are currently.

    • Michael Silver says:

      Don’t pat yourself on the back about agreeing with Saxby, just yet. You may find that you dislike him more after my next paragraph.

      Iran was running out of money to pursue its nuclear dreams. The sanctions were working, amazingly. It was so severe that there was a chance of regime change, much like in 2009 before Obama sided with the Mullahs.

      With this deal, apparently supported by Saxby, Iran gets $7 to $8 Billion to fund its nuclear ambitions provided they wait 6 months before surging toward the finish line. Once again, Obama sided with the Mullah’s and Saxby is sitting right beside him.

      • Eric The Younger says:

        Remember that line about carrot and stick? Too much of one and the deal fails. Since 2001, there has been a lot of stick and no carrot to encourage a change in behavior. Also the congress (under Bush and Obama) has made it very difficult to send credible signals to reward compliance. All the congress wants to do is punish. For two years Iran ceased enrichment voluntarily. They were met with increased sanctions.

        We need more carrot if we are going to change behavior. Before we poison the waters, let’s see what actually happens.

        • gcp says:

          It’s a history of deals falling apart, not just the 2004 agreement. Is it mostly the western nations causing the breakdowns? I doubt it. As for this deal, the more I look at it the murkier it gets. Chambliss is correct to ask questions, but I am not sure his questions are the correct questions.

  4. MattMD says:

    Has anybody asked why we as a country (and our Israeli proxies) have a right to determine who can develop nuclear weapons? The Iranian government that signed the NPT doesn’t exist anymore.

    I mean, hey, based on one the articles one of y’all posted a few days back Kennedy by a ball-hair away from starting a war with the USSR over some missiles in Cuba.

    Why are we so quick to say they are crazy? They’re not, it’s one of the few cards they can still play. IMO, the Pakistani government is much more duplicitous and even they won’t cross that bridge. They know where they will end up.

    • Noway says:

      We might be just a wee bit worried that a nuclear armed Iran may just make good on its threat to “wipe Israel off the map…”. That’s why we are worried who joins the nuclear club.

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