WASHINGTON – House lawmakers complained to Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday that a proposed nuclear deal with Iran yields too much by potentially opening the way for the Islamic Republic to continue enriching uranium at low levels.
On Kerry’s first visit to Congress to publicly explain the preliminary agreement reached in Geneva two weeks ago, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) said Iran “simply can’t be trusted with enrichment technology.”
“Iran, from our standpoint, does not need this technology to generate electricity,” he said. “It is exactly what they do need to create a nuclear weapon.”
The Nov. 24 deal was negotiated between Iran and six world powers -- the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- in a bid to open the way for talks about a long-term agreement that would prevent Tehran from achieving nuclear weapons capability.
The agreement calls on the two sides to work out in the final accord the terms of an enrichment program for Iran.
The possibility that Iran might receive the international community's blessing for limited uranium enrichment has been a source of controversy for years because of fears that Iran might use such a concession to edge toward nuclear weapons capability.
President Obama said Saturday that it was not realistic to expect Iran to surrender all aspects of a multibillion-dollar nuclear program it has been expanding for decades.
Kerry stressed, however, that such a concession “is not locked in.... It depends on the final agreement.”
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the foreign affairs panel's ranking member, expressed concern that with limited enrichment, Iran would be poised to race toward weapons capability at any time.
“If they get enrichment, how can we be sure that they’re not on the brink of a breakout?” he asked.
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