Updated 3:04 p.m. ET, 1/24/2014
Washington (CNN) – The interim nuclear deal with Iran and six other world powers was never signed by the representatives who brokered the agreement last November, leading one top Republican House leader to complain it allows Iranian leaders to ignore parts of the agreement, though the Obama administration said concern is unfounded.
The congressman, who only agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity, said the lack of actual signatures could be seen as a way for Iran to ignore provisions that offers Iran modest relief from some international sanctions in exchange for freezing and scaling back parts of its nuclear program.
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"I candidly think (the Obama administration) got snookered," said the GOP congressman. "I think they just wanted a deal," he added.
A senior Obama administration official confirmed to CNN that there are no signatures on the deal but said it is a non-issue.
Noting the interim deal is only a preliminary agreement, a senior administration official said there is nothing unusual about the fact that the agreement was not signed.
"It's not an international treaty," the official told CNN, pointing out Iranian officials have already begun taking "tangible steps" this week in compliance with the so-called "Joint Plan of Action" which was officially implemented on January 20.
"The United States and the European Union have determined that Iran has taken the steps it committed to doing by or on the first day of implementation regarding its nuclear program," State Department spokeswoman said in a January 20 statement.
The senior administration official dismissed the criticism of the lack of signatures as "grasping at straws" from members who are dissatisfied with the agreement.
Members of Congress from both parties have voiced their frustrations with the six month interim deal and have proposed new sanctions aimed at applying more pressure on the Iranian government. White House officials have argued new sanctions would be counterproductive and harm prospects for a diplomatic breakthrough that could prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The same administration official insisted the threat of additional sanctions provides more leverage for the White House than any signatures.
"The Iranians are well aware of what happens if we can't conclude a comprehensive agreement," the official said.
Earlier this week, top Iranian officials accused the White House of overselling what Iran has agreed to do as part of the interim deal.
"White House tries to portray it as a - basically, a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word that they used time and again," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said in an interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto.
"But we are not dismantling any centrifuges. We are not dismantling any equipment," Zarif added.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said such dismantling would have to come in a future, more comprehensive agreement. Iranian officials, Carney said, were playing semantics in response to domestic political pressures.
Carney said the lack of signatures is irrelevant. "There is no question that Iran and the members of P5-plus-1 have entered into an agreement," Carney told reporters Friday.
Former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the addition of international monitors inside Iranian nuclear facilities during the interim agreement holds the most promise in the long-term effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear arsenal.
"The presence or absence of a signature is unimportant. Ultimately they are either going to reach an agreement or they are not," Crowley said.