Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) issued the following statement as negotiators attempt to reach a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program by November 24th.  This week’s talks in Vienna will attempt to finalize the agreement that was outlined by the interim “joint plan of action” signed a year ago.

“As negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program move toward a possible conclusion, we continue to urge U.S. negotiators to take into account testimony given at a dozen hearings before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this Congress.   Among the challenges negotiators face: contending with the thousands of centrifuges (the key bomb-making technology) that Iran is seeking to maintain intact; establishing an effective verification regime; and understanding and addressing the ‘possible military dimensions’ of Iran’s nuclear program.  We are greatly concerned by reports that Iran is seeking to keep – and not dismantle – much of its nuclear infrastructure.  Conceding enrichment to Iran is a fundamental and risky departure from decades of U.S. non-proliferation policy.  Concerning also is Iran’s continued stonewalling of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the key verification agency, about its past bomb work.  How can we have any confidence that Iran will be transparent in the future if it won’t be transparent about its past?

“We believe that any final agreement between the P5+1 and Iran must foreclose any pathway for Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability.  It must include an effective, intrusive, and long-term verification mechanism that would give us ample warning of any attempt by Iran to break out.  It must also require Iran to come clean on its past work to develop a bomb.

“There is also the concerning fact that any limits placed on Iran’s nuclear program as part of the ‘comprehensive solution’ now being negotiated will expire.  In this respect, the ‘final’ agreement is just another interim step, with the real final step being one in which Iran is treated as ‘any other’ non-nuclear weapon state under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, opening it to pursue industrial scale enrichment.  Of course, Iran – with a deep history of deception, covert procurement, and construction of clandestine facilities – is not ‘any other’ country, to be conceded a sophisticated nuclear program.  This end state is all the more disconcerting, as the regime in Tehran continues to sow destruction in the region and brutalize Iranians seeking democracy and human rights.  Any meaningful agreement must last far into the future.

“Oversight of these issues has been a top Committee priority.  Few other issues are of such grave importance to our nation’s security.  We will continue working to evaluate the outcome of these negotiations to determine if they are in the long-term national security interests of the United States and our allies — and act accordingly.”

Note:  Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel are co-authors of H.R. 850, the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which passed the House 400-20 in July 31, 2013.