U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked questions on July 29 regarding the Iran nuclear agreement to a panel of witnesses, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, Secretary of Energy Moniz, and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

During Senator Fischer’s remarks, she questioned Secretary of Energy Moniz on the break out time for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, noting discrepancies between the Obama administration’s claims and the text of the actual agreement:

Fischer: You’ve stated that the 24-day waiting period for international inspectors won’t allow the regime to conceal any illegal activity, but as I read the agreement and many other people have pointed out, the inspector’s request to visit those sites could be delayed much longer than 24 days. I know that you’re not concerned about the 24-day period. You believe that we would, the IAEA would be able to handle that, but if you look at different parts in Section Q of Annex 1 of the agreement, I think that we have the potential that we are looking at an 89-day delay. You think that would be possible and how confident are you about us being able to inspect then?

Moniz: No, we certainly cannot allow for that. I might say I did not say any illegal activity. I focused specifically, or especially on activity with nuclear material as my real focus, number one. Number two is the IAEA has, at any sign of lack of cooperation, they have to launch the process with their request for access. Then comes the 24 days. As I mentioned also, there is in the unclassified literature an example in Iran of a 6-month delay and attempt to conceal, which did not work. They were caught red handed.

Fischer: You said you wouldn’t allow the 89 days. You just couldn’t allow that. How many days after 24 days would you allow?

Moniz: No, it’s not after 24 days. It’s that the process to launch the formal request for access from IAEA has got to be prompt. That launches the 24-day clock and that’s the end.

Fischer: You would not allow anything past that?

Moniz: I would not.

The Department of Energy Secretary’s responses highlight some of Senator Fischer’s key concerns with the deal the administration has negotiated with Iran. First, after 15 years, the agreement’s limitations on Iran’s nuclear program expire and, as Secretary Moniz stated, “they will probably expand their program.” A deal that embraces Iran as a threshold nuclear power in 15 years is not in our nation’s interest.

Additionally, Senator Fischer questioned whether the long delays and bureaucratic timelines built into the agreement could hinder the international inspectors’ ability to verify Iran’s compliance. While Secretary Moniz emphasized the importance of accessing suspicious Iranian sites within 24 days, the agreement allows for delays beyond this point – up to 89 days.

The failure of this agreement to affirmatively spell out inspectors’ rights to rapidly access any Iranian facility (including military sites) falls far short of the “anytime, anywhere” standard initially set by the administration during the negotiations. What’s more, it fails to even satisfy the watered-down threshold of “where necessary, when necessary” recently set by the president.

Click here to watch a video of the event.