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October 2, 2014 2:14 pm

Tehran ‘Has Much To Hide’ Over Nuclear Program, Members of Congress Tell Kerry

avatar by Ben Cohen

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry negotiates with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in Vienna, August 2014. Photo: Wikimedia

More than 300 members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern over Iran’s refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA.)

The letter was signed by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, along with 352 other House Members.

Noting that the U.S. was preparing “for the resumption of negotiations between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) and Iran,” the letter stated: “We believe that Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement.  As you wrote in the Washington Post earlier this summer, if Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, ‘it’s not a hard proposition to prove.’ The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.”

The letter continued: “We are concerned that an agreement that accepts Iran’s lack of transparency on this key issue would set the dangerous precedent that certain facilities and aspects of Iran’s nuclear program can be declared off limits by Tehran, resulting in additional wide-ranging restrictions on IAEA inspectors, and making effective verification virtually impossible.”

In September, talks in New York between the U.S. and its allies and the Iranians ended without agreement. On Monday of this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that a “senior Western diplomat” will continue within the next two weeks. “The format for the next talks isn’t yet decided but it could be a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chairs the six power group that Tehran negotiates with on its nuclear program,” the Journal said.

Under the terms of an agreement negotiated in Geneva in late 2013, a deadline for a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was set for July 2014. When that deadline passed, negotiators agreed an extension to November 24, 2014 – less than eight weeks from now.

Writing in The Atlantic, David Frum, who served as an aide to former President George W. Bush, lambasted President Barack Obama’s administration for enabling the Iranians to stand on the verge of a “stunning diplomatic triumph” over the United States. “The United States—which began the nuclear talks from a position of strength—has acted throughout the negotiations like the weaker party. The U.S. visibly hungered for a deal, and Iran took advantage of that hunger,” Frum asserted.

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