VIENNA — U.S. Senators who accuse the Obama administration of making secret deals with Iran that go beyond the publicly known nuclear pact will get a chance next week to question the head of the U.N. agency said to be linked to the alleged clandestine documents
The announcement Friday of Yukiya Amano's trip to Washington did not mention the dispute. The International Atomic Energy Agency said only that Amano will meet members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Wednesday to "discuss the IAEA's role in verifying and monitoring nuclear-related measures" under the July 14 deal.
But senators are sure to grill Amano on the alleged side deals, as the trip coincides with furious lobbying between opponents and supporters of the pact during a 60-day congressional review.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, reiterated his demand Thursday that the Obama administration turn over documents related to agreements between the IAEA and Iran that he described as "side agreements." Secretary of State John Kerry has said there are none, and Amano's agency speaks of a normal procedure in keeping confidential the technical nuts and bolts of monitoring agreements between the IAEA and individual countries.
Amano's trip comes amid Iranian accusations that Washington is violating the deal by suggesting that that the enhanced IAEA surveillance would bring the benefit of making any potential attack on Tehran's atomic program more potent.
Reza Najafi, the IAEA's chief Iranian delegate, quoted White House spokesman Josh Earnest as saying that would result in more pinpointed U.S. or Israeli military action against Iran — if needed — "because we'd been spending the intervening number of years gathering significantly more detail about Iran's nuclear program."
Israel is a harsh critic of the deal and says it is keeping all options open to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Iran says it does not want such arms, and the Obama administration says the agreement has accomplished its goal of preventing Tehran from getting them.
Still, as part of White House pushback against critics of the deal, Earnest, in comments to reporters July 17 said that the U.S. "military option would remain on the table" if Iran breaks out of the deal and races to make a bomb. Earnest said Friday he stood by those remarks.
Associated Press White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed from Washington.