On May 22, as the June 30, 2015, deadline for agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by the P5+1 and Iran approaches, President Obama signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA), H.R. 1191. The legislation amends the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to provide for congressional review and oversight of a potential nuclear-related agreement with Iran. The INARA contains the following key provisions:
- Transmission. Not later than five calendar days after reaching agreement with Iran, the president must transmit the agreement (including all related materials and annexes) to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership, along with a verification assessment report from the U.S. secretary of state regarding means to verify that Iran is complying with its obligations under the agreement, and a certification that, among other things, the agreement includes provisions describing any sanctions to be waived, suspended or otherwise reduced, provides appropriate terms, conditions and duration of requirements for Iran’s nuclear activities and that the president determines that the agreements meets U.S. non-proliferation objectives. According to a bill summary of the Senate version, these additional requirements are designed to ensure that Congress will get to see the entire agreement and make an independent judgment on its merits.
- Congressional Review. Following transmission, the appropriate congressional committees shall have an opportunity to review the agreement during a 30-day review period (which becomes 60 days if the agreement is transmitted to Congress between July 10, 2015, and September 7, 2015).
- No “Relief” from Statutory Sanctions During the Transmission and Review Period. Subject to limited exceptions, during the transmission and congressional review periods, the president may not waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from or otherwise limit the application of statutory sanctions with respect to Iran (or refrain from applying any sanctions pursuant to the agreement with Iran).
- No “Relief” During Pendency of Joint Resolution of Disapproval. If a Joint Resolution of Disapproval is passed by both houses of Congress, sanctions may not be relieved for 12 calendar days, and if the president vetoes the joint resolution, sanctions may not be relieved for the 10 calendar days following the veto.
- Congressional Oversight of Iranian Compliance. The president is required to keep the appropriate congressional committees and leadership informed of all aspects of Iranian compliance with any agreement with Iran, including quarterly certifications by the president to Congress. If the president does not submit a quarterly certification or determines that Iran has materially breached the agreement without cure, Congress may vote to restore sanctions. Any qualifying legislation introduced within 60 days of the triggering event will be given expedited consideration by the Congress. The president is also required to make a variety of detailed reports to Congress on a range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missiles work, and its support for terrorism globally, particularly against Americans and their allies.