John Kerry to face Iran deal skeptics at Congress next week

 US Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Congress next week for the first of several hearings addressing the historic nuclear deal with Iran, amid lawmakers' deep skepticism about the accord.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 16, 2015, 21:16 PM IST

Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Congress next week for the first of several hearings addressing the historic nuclear deal with Iran, amid lawmakers' deep skepticism about the accord.

Kerry was instrumental in striking this week's agreement with America's historic foe but with the ink barely dry global attention has turned to US lawmakers, who have a crucial role in determining whether the deal holds up or collapses.

Kerry will testify July 23 at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a panel he chaired before becoming the top US diplomat, the committee's current chairman Senator Bob Corker said in a statement today.

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who played a vital role in the technical aspects of the international negotiations in Vienna, will testify, as will Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The accord sees Iran's nuclear program curtailed in exchange for an easing of crippling economic sanctions.

Congress has 60 days to review the agreement, and can vote to approve or reject it.

Under legislation passed in May, President Barack Obama is barred from lifting any sanctions on Iran during the review period, unless Congress approves the deal during that time.

Many Republicans have already expressed open and strong opposition to it.

Several Democrats, while admittedly unsure, are urging colleagues to fully review and study the agreement and hear from experts in congressional hearings before passing judgement.

Should Congress pass a resolution of disapproval, Obama would veto that resolution. Two-thirds of lawmakers would be needed to override a presidential veto.

Meanwhile, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said he was planning to hold hearings with Kerry "as soon as possible," although no schedule has been released.

"The Obama administration has lots of questions to answer," Royce said.