Policy: National Security

White House shares Iran deal with Congress --- but not the public

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Politics,White House,Congress,Senate,Iran,National Security,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Hassan Rouhani,Foreign Policy

The Obama administration on Thursday provided lawmakers with the full text of a nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers, but held off releasing the full document to the public, providing only a summary.

The move comes after critics pushed for more transparency over the negotiations to freeze aspects of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Several Republican senators have said they are worried about Iranian officials' claims earlier this week of a “secret side deal” between the U.S., the P5+1 group and Iran, and have urged the Obama administration to allow lawmakers and the public to scrutinize the interim agreement.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration shared the full 30-page document with members of Congress, but the International Atomic Energy Agency, an international body which is charged with conducting inspections of the Iranian nuclear facilities and verifying Tehran's compliance with the agreement, objected to releasing the full text publicly.

“These types of documents are not always made public — often they're not,” she said, “and in this instance it's the preference of the IAEA, who of course will be monitoring and verifying this, that certain technical aspects remain confidential.

“But to deliver on our promise to make as much public as possible, we're going to release a detailed summary of the text,” she said.

On Sunday, Obama officials finalized the technical details of the deal with Iran and at the time didn't release the text of the agreement, but said that they would confer with international partners and release to the public as many details as possible.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a leading critic of the deal with Iran who has co-sponsored a new sanctions bill with Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said releasing the summary does not go far enough and continued to push for a full public release of the document.

“The Iran deal shouldn't be kept secret from the American people,” he said in a statement. “If the White House is proud of the deal, it should be able to withstand public scrutiny in its entirety.”

Senators have raised new transparency concerns after Iran's chief negotiator told an Iranian news agency of a secret side deal that did not require Tehran to stop the research and development of an advanced new generation of centrifuges that would process uranium more quickly.

The fears were exacerbated with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to Twitter to brag that the West had “surrendered to [Iran's] will” in the agreement.

A State Department spokeswoman denied that there was any side agreement, and the White House has characterized the Iranian officials' boasting as hype aimed at selling the deal to their own citizens.

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