"We know Iran can't be trusted -- we have decades of covert activities related to its nuclear program to back that up yet we are relying on Iran disclosing all of its nuclear activities and that the verification, monitoring and transparency programs we have in place are strong enough to detect when Iran is cheating."
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement at today's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran's nuclear program, entitled: "Verifying Iran's Nuclear Compliance." Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Thank you very much, Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel for holding this vitally important hearing.
While the Administration continues to negotiate a bad and week deal with Iran - while keeping Congress in the dark -- it's important for us to continue to highlight the menacing nature of the Iranian regime and the flaws in the Administration's approach to this deception. We're almost at the end of the six-month agreement, yet the Administration has failed to properly consult with Congress about important parts of this deal -- where are the details?
Congress has been steadfast in its mission to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and it was only because of our efforts on implementing Iran sanctions that Iran has even agreed to negotiate. I authored, with the support of many Members of this committee, the strictest sanctions against Iran, and now we are seeing all of that work undone by the Administration that misguidedly and dangerously trusts Iran despite decades of evidence that tells us that the mullahs are untrustworthy. Time to wake up.
I've been on the record disapproving the interim agreement, and any subsequent agreement that does not require Iran to cease all enrichment activities and dismantle its nuclear infrastructure; we know Iran can't be trusted -- we have decades of covert activities related to its nuclear program to back that up.
Yet we are relying on two things: one, that Iran is honest with us on disclosing all of its nuclear activities, and two, that the verification, monitoring and transparency programs we have in place are strong enough to detect when Iran is cheating. But all of the verification and monitoring systems operate under the framework that is presented to us by Iran -- only what Iran has declared as part of the program.
In last month's IAEA Board of Governors report on Iran's nuclear program, the Director General stated that the IAEA cannot provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran unless and until Iran provides the necessary cooperation with the Agency. And we're all familiar with the Pentagon report that stated that the U.S. does not have the capability to locate undeclared or covert nuclear facilities or programs.
So it's still very possible that Iran could be continuing its covert activity and neither the IAEA nor the U.S. would have any idea, and this JPOA did nothing to strengthen verification and monitoring programs, or force Iran to abide by the Additional Protocols.
Mr. Heinonen, you testified to our Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee in January that the JPOA provides IAEA inspectors access only to surveillance records, not anywhere else at the facilities -- that the surveillance measures are designed to cover only certain activities. How comprehensive are these surveillance records -- is it possible that we are only getting access to what Iran wants us to see, not getting the full picture; that the cameras perhaps only focus on the door and not what's going on in the room?
Bad state actors that seek to acquire nuclear weapons -- I'm thinking of North Korea, Libya, Syria, and obviously Iran -- do so surreptitiously. So what we now have is the Administration and the P5+1 negotiating on a basis of only what has been declared. Doesn't the success of any IAEA verification and monitoring program depend on access to all sites, all programs, all of the information and people and equipment, in order to get the full picture?
One other major area of concern we should all have, and which goes largely unaddressed, are the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program. The 2010 UN Security Council resolution on Iran ordered the regime to fully cooperate with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly regarding possible military dimensions of the program.
That isn't happening, and the latest Board of Governors report states that not only is Iran not complying, but there have been extensive activities that have taken place at Parchin that seriously undermined the IAEA's ability to conduct effective verification. We're nearing the end of the 6 month timeframe, and there has been no access to Parchin -- does this undermine the credibility of the deal and the so called monitoring and verification that measures we have in place?
Mr. Heinonen: are we only seeing what they want us to see? How comprehensive are the surveillance records."
*Note: This is an edited version that combines both her statement and her questions.