WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Corker-Menendez-Kaine Iran Nuclear Review Act by a vote of 19-0.
“I want to thank Senator Corker for his patience and willingness to work with me in good faith to ensure that the provisions of the Iran Nuclear Review Agreement Act of 2015 are consistent with the negotiating objectives of the P5+1 framework. America is always stronger when we speak with one voice on foreign policy. In finding common ground, we keep the spotlight on our shared effort to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.
“I have always supported Congressional review of any final agreement with Iran. Congress has played an essential role on this issue, having authored the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table. There is bipartisan support that Congress should have a right to review any agreement that would suspend or lift these Congressional sanctions. This is the primary rationale behind the legislation. Under the bill, Congress may not take any action until after the Obama Administration presents a final agreement.
“If a final agreement with Iran is received in a timely manner, Congress will have 30 calendar days for an orderly and thoughtful review. If an agreement with Iran goes into effect, then this bill ensures an ongoing oversight role for Congress and provides for expedited procedures to snap back sanctions if Iran breaches the agreement.
“We are all unified in our goal to ensure that Iran is blocked from ever having a nuclear weapon. There is no trust when it comes to Iran, so the final agreement must be verifiable, transparent and make it clear that any violations would result in the restoration of the strongest possible sanctions. To that end, we were able to better focus the certification requirements by keeping off other items not directly connected to Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement. The bill does greatly enhance the reporting requirement with respect to Iran’s support for terrorism. It also clarifies through a Sense of the Congress that there will be no sanctions relief pursuant to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, ballistic missile program, or human rights abuses, and that Israel’s security and existence are protected. I was very pleased that we added language that requires a regular assessment of whether Iran’s violation of human rights have increased or decreased.
“This legislation and the overall negotiations with Iran have brought forward varied opinions and deep emotions on all sides. As Congress upholds its responsibilities, I urge my colleagues, advocates and all interested parties – Democrats and Republicans – to stay united and keep the focus where it belongs: on halting Iran’s nuclear program, which is best accomplished through strong diplomatic actions.”