Details contained within two secret side deals made with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are key to whether Congress approves the Iran nuclear deal, Sen. Tom Cotton said Thursday, alleging Secretary of State John Kerry worked to keep those agreements from public scrutiny.
"Kerry acted like Pontius Pilate; he washed his hands and kicked it to the IAEA, knowing Congress wouldn't get this information unless someone went out to find it," the Arkansas Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe"
On Wednesday, Cotton and Kansas GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo joined forces with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner to demand the side agreements be made available so they can be reviewed, reports Fox News
White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice admitted Wednesday that the deals existed, and they accompany the main deal reached last week between Iran and the United States, France, Germany Russia and China, reports Breitbart
According to Cotton and Pompeo, who first revealed their existence Tuesday, one of the agreements covers inspection of the Parchin military complex, while the other concerns potential military aspects of Iran's nuclear program, reports Fox.
Cotton and Pompeo learned of the side deals in a meeting with IAEA officials in Vienna on Friday.
Cotton said Thursday he's not satisfied with the Obama administration's admission, because more information is needed about the side deals themselves.
The IAEA officials were "frank sand helpful in saying they reached two secret agreements with Iran about the Parchin military complex," said Cotton, explaining that Iran uses that location to test nuclear detonators, and the IAEA will verify the past military work Iran has done in its nuclear program.
But as the details of the two deals have not been released, Cotton said he does not know how a vote can be reached to approve the overall Iran deal, which is "based on verification and inspection."
"Without that information, I don't see how we can trust the government of Iran," said Cotton.
He pointed out that Iran had nearly four years to reveal past military work on its nuclear program, including work done at the Parchin site.
"This may have been a firm line that Iran would not draw, and the U.S. negotiating team was refusing to draw its own line and walk away from the deal," said Cotton.
Kerry is expected to speak at Senate committee hearings on Thursday, and Cotton said that the secretary, in a closed setting on Wednesday with Pompeo, confirmed the existence of the agreements but wouldn't disclose their contents.
Meanwhile, under federal law, the administration can't waive sanctions against Iran until all agreements are submitted, including agreements reached between Iran and the IAEA, and Congress reviews them.
"My position is the president cannot waive sanctions until he submits these agreements and there is a 60-day clock that begins to run," said Cotton. "The administration has an obligation under U.S. law to obtain the agreements and submit them to Congress so we can review them on behalf of the American people."
But the details of the side agreements are vital, even if they're considered as a means for the IAEA to carry out the overall Iran deal, said Cotton.
"Parchin is where Iran tested nuclear detonators," he said. "We don't know what else they've done there. If you don't have the past military work they've done on the nuclear program, you have no baseline for inspections. It's like saying you're going to go on a diet but you don't have the weight where you start and you don't know what progress you've made ... if you don't have the baseline, you can't conduct an effective inspections regime no matter what the regime is."
On Wednesday, Cotton and Pompeo penned a letter to the Obama administration asking for details about the side agreements.
Pompeo also told Fox that Kerry was asked about the secret deals during the briefing, and the secretary of state confirmed that he "himself had not seen the agreement."
"I was incredibly surprised to learn there were components of the deal that Congress was not going to be privy to," Pompeo said.
Pompeo and Cotton said in their letter that failing to produce the agreements "leaves Congress blind on critical information regarding Iran’s potential path to being a nuclear power and will have detrimental consequences for the ability of members to assess" the overall agreement.
They said that they were told the deals will remain secret and will not be shared, and called that a violation of the Obama administration's commitment to provide the full text of the Iran deal to Congress for consideration under the Iran Nuclear Review Agreement Act, reports Fox.
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