House Republicans sound alarm on Iran's secretive nuclear program as inspectors face hurdles
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Top Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Tuesday, asking he provide a detailed strategy to ensure Iran’s nuclear transparency as the two nations engage in indirect nuclear talks.
In a February deal with United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran agreed to allow inspections of its nuclear sites for three months – extending an Iranian deadline tied to U.S. sanction relief.
"With the upcoming expiration of this understanding, we are concerned that the IAEA will lose what visibility it has on Iran’s nuclear program," GOP lawmakers said in a letter to the Secretary of State Tuesday.
Iran has said it will not cooperate with the United Nations regarding its nuclear development or re-enter an international nuclear deal until the U.S. lifts Trump-era sanctions – something the Biden administration has said it is reluctant to do.
The lawmakers, led by Ranking Member Rep. Michael McCaul, R- Texas, cited Iran’s "ongoing provocative nuclear behavior" and continued development of uranium, among their chief concern regarding the IAEA’s inability to continue monitoring the Persian nation’s nuclear development.
"We fear that this opacity has grave implications for U.S. national security, as well as the security of our regional allies," the letter continued.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has prioritized indirect talks with Iran in an attempt to get the two nations to reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – a nuclear deal Donald Trump removed the U.S. from in 2018.
Trump claimed Iran violated the terms of the agreement by continuing to develop its nuclear arms and slapped crippling sanctions on the nation instead.
The Biden administration has remained hesitant to remove the sanctions, while Iran has been unwilling to enter a new agreement with the U.S. until sanctions are removed.
Diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia met this weekend in Vienna to work out an agreement between Iran and the U.S., but said more time is needed.
U.S. lawmakers are concerned that a nuclear agreement will not be reached before the IAEA’s three-month extension expires.
"We urge you to ensure that this issue is resolved as quickly as possible and does not become fodder for negotiation and concession related to the JCPOA," the lawmakers said.
Fox News could not immediately reach the Department of State or the IAEA regarding their plans on ensuring Iran’s nuclear transparency.