Ranking House Foreign Affairs Committee members urge congressional involvement on Iran sanctions

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the committee's ranking member, released a letter on Tuesday intended for President Barack Obama regarding sanctions against Iran.

The letter noted that Congress played a critical role in imposing economic sanctions against Iran and any long-term sanctions relief requires congressional action.

The Obama administration, Iran and other international powers reached an interim agreement in November that eased some sanctions on Iran in exchange for some concessions on its nuclear program. The agreement set a July 20 deadline for reaching a comprehensive deal.

"Our two branches of government have long been partners in working to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," Royce and Engel said. "However, as these hugely consequential national security decisions are made, greater cooperation between Congress and the executive branch is essential, given that any permanent sanctions relief demands congressional approval."

The letter cited remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the administration would be legally bound to secure legislative approval of any final agreement with Iran, and added that any agreement must verifiably ensure that Iran cannot maintain an undetectable nuclear weapons breakout capability.

The letter from Royce and Engel is currently circulating among members of the House of Representatives.