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Bipartisan Representatives Seek to Create Helsinki-Style Commission for the JCPOA

Oct 9, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11) introduced bipartisan legislation to create a Congressional-Executive commission to oversee the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Connolly was joined by Representatives Jim Langevin, Steve Israel, Gregory Meeks, Bill Foster, Ami Bera, Kathleen Rice, Dan Kildee, John Delaney, David Cicilline, and Richard Hanna.

The Commission will include 16 Members of Congress (8 from the Senate and 8 from the House of Representatives) and 4 representatives from the Executive Branch (representing the Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, and Department of Energy). Commissioners will be appointed by the respective Chamber leadership, the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the President.

The Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance is modeled after the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, which was created in 1976 to monitor compliance with the Helsinki Final Act. Despite initial pushback from the Nixon Administration, the Helsinki Commission has served as an oversight model and is still actively carrying out its mission nearly 40 years after it was established.

“The Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance will ensure close and enduring Congressional oversight of the JCPOA as well as coordination between Congress and the Administration regarding the implementation of the deal,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11). “More important than the agreement reached in Vienna is Iran’s compliance with the commitments it made. I supported this deal, and I believe it is a viable alternative for addressing the Iranian nuclear issue. However, I will not tolerate Iranian non-compliance, and this Commission ensures that the effort to constrain the Iranian nuclear program receives the attention it deserves.”

“As we transition towards a post-deal environment it is critical that we closely monitor Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA to ensure Iran does not violate one iota of the deal, and that we guarantee a safe and secure Israel. This bipartisan Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance will provide crucial Congressional and Executive oversight over implementation of the JCPOA to ensure Iran does not exploit ambiguities in the deal and that any non-compliance results in immediate punitive measures” said Rep. Israel (NY-03).

“The inclusion of rigorous verification processes was critical to my support of the Iran nuclear agreement, and I believe this Commission will provide another layer of checks and balances to ensure that Iran is in full compliance with the agreement, has not violated any conditions and, ultimately, cannot acquire a nuclear weapon,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees. “Keeping a nuclear weapon out of the hands of Iran is absolutely essential for U.S. national security and the safety of our allies around the world, and this Commission will strengthen our efforts to prevent that from happening.”

“While I did not support the agreement with Iran, the fact is that Congress failed to block it, so now I'm focused on ensuring that we fully enforce every aspect of the deal, verify Iran’s total compliance, and hold Iran fully accountable for any infraction. Creating this Commission will allow us to do that more effectively and give members of Congress from both parties a greater role in overseeing the agreement’s implementation,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY-04).

“As the only Ph.D. physicist in Congress, I have taken very seriously my responsibility to review the technical aspects of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As we begin to implement this agreement, it will be imperative that we are able to continuously verify Iran’s compliance,” said Rep. Foster (IL-11). “The Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance will not only ensure that Congress has continued oversight over the implementation of this agreement, but will reinforce the coordination between Congress and the Executive Branch.”

“The international community came together to write the JCPOA in order to hold Iran accountable for their dangerous nuclear program. As we begin to implement the agreement, ensuring Iran complies with the deal is critical. The Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance will allow for focused congressional oversight. It will provide detailed reports to Congress not only on Iranian compliance, but also to verify that the international watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has the resources and capability to fully monitor Iran.  As the agreement has never been based on trust but rather on verification, this bipartisan, bicameral Commission will give Congress a focused group dedicated to doing just that,” said Rep. John Delaney (MD-06).  

“I’m proud to join Congressman Connolly and our colleagues in introducing this bill to hold Iran accountable and ensure their compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (RI-01). “The Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance will be a critical tool to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, promote greater stability in the Middle East, and protect our national security interests – especially the safety and security of Israel.”

“With the Iran nuclear agreement moving forward despite my strong opposition, it is now Congress’ responsibility to make certain that Iran complies fully with the commitments it has made,” said Rep. Hanna (NY- 22). “The commission established by this legislation will ensure a robust, comprehensive, and ongoing review of Iran’s nuclear activity. It strengthens congressional authority and commits dedicated resources to monitor Iran’s compliance.

“Whether Members supported or opposed this deal,” Hanna said, “we can all agree that the best course of action moving forward is absolute transparency and vigorous oversight. The bipartisan commission created under this bill provides for both.”

Bill Text

Graphic of the Commission’s structure below and here.

 

Iran Commission