November 10th, 2013
10:22 AM ET
6 months ago

Graham: New sanctions on Iran needed

Washington (CNN) - After three days of talks focused on halting Iran's uranium enrichment efforts broke down Sunday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Congress would not wait for the next round of negotiations.

Graham said he intends to put forward a measure that would mandate more sanctions on Iran, aimed at forcing the Middle Eastern nation to dismantle its nuclear weapons program - a move that runs counter to the interim steps sought by the negotiating parties gathered in Geneva, Switzerland.


"We're worried about the endgame, not some interim deal," Graham told CNN's chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, on "State of the Union," repeatedly asserting that "you can't trust the Iranians" and questioning whether they actually intend to abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Graham said Iran's President Hassan Rouhani would have to comply with four separate preconditions in order to avoid a new round of crippling sanctions: Stop enriching uranium and other nuclear materials; dismantle centrifuges used in nuclear production; halt the country's plutonium-producing reactor; and place its fuel cycle under international control.

Asked by Crowley if such a move would make the Iranians balk and walk away from the negotiating table, Graham offered rare praise for the Obama administration's effort to create "really good" international sanctions. And he doubled down on his stance that even more economic pressure would precipitate a permanent solution.

"We believe that sanctions and the threat of military force (are) the only things that are going to bring the Iranians to the table," Graham said. "If you back off now, you're sending the worst possible message."

Graham, who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made clear that Iran's past willingness to flaunt international regulations and attempts to dupe negotiating partners should make the rest of the world skeptical of any offers from Tehran.
"You have a regime that is lying about what they're trying to do. They're trying to build a nuclear weapon. For 30 years they've been terrorizing the region and the world," Graham said.

Despite his faint praise for the White House's attempts to make inroads with the seemingly more moderate Rouhani, Graham echoed concerns similar to those expressed by Israeli Primi Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was not party to the Geneva talks. Netanyahu had publicly warned that an agreement would be "the deal of a century for Iran" and a "bad deal for peace."

Graham faulted Secretary of State John Kerry and his team for taking the Iranians too much at their word, saying he's "never been more worried" about the Obama administration's approach to the Middle East.

"How does thie movie with Iran end? If it ends with the four things I said, I would be satisfied. If it ends with anything less, then the world will regret this," Graham said.

Graham also thanked the country that he said sounded the alarm and spurred the pushback that helped conclude the summit without a deal in hand.

"Thank God for France," Graham quipped.

Graham's aggressive posture could complicate the situation on the ground in Geneva for Kerry and his negotiating team. With a new round of talks set for November 20 - with representation from the political, not the ministerial level - strong skepticism at home could add hurdles to hammering out a deal. With the Iranians already expecting to be assailed by hardliners in Tehran for not returning from Geneva with an agreement, a tougher posture by Congress on the conditions required for an agreement could undo what progress was made last week.


Filed under: Iran • Lindsey Graham • State of the Union
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. scottie

    it's time to break from Israel

    November 10, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Lindsey has been irrelevant since Cruz came to town !

    Old guys with no new ideas Vs new guys with bad ides .

    November 10, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. David

    Lets get more sanctions for Iran period I dont trust Irans goverment at all

    November 10, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. david

    I strongly believe, that Iran's nuke would kill ONLY Yews through entire world, so don't worry, probably 0% you survive...

    November 10, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. Badly-Bent

    Considering the lead time necessary, this is an appropriate time to lay the ground work for a new round of increased sanctions.

    November 10, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Hooper

    Lindsey, would love to see a crowd of people with their right arms extended, fist's clenched, chanting his name as if under some kind of spell. He's desired this since he was a little boy.

    November 10, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    You're NOT the President, Mr Graham. If fact YOUR party lost. You don't get to decide foreign policy!

    November 10, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Change congress by changing parties

    November 10, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. hubert39

    How much is Graham willing to pay people to come forward and say they are survivors? The last one he got lied about being there.
    Reminds me of the old lawyer story. The lawyer asked his client do you have witnesses or you want me to
    provide for you?

    November 10, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. dwicjan

    Put a muzzle on Graham. He is just a right wing nut job.

    November 10, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    Israel is the number one thug. This guy is so pathetic. We need to dump this guy in war-zone. Yes, Rouhani is signaling to be a friend to USA after a long time, he knows Iran is suffering with Sanctions. Yes, Middle East is destabilized by Bush. Now it is the time, opportunity to grab it. This idiot lacks brain. For saying ever darn dirty damn thing "NO". GOP idiocy way.

    November 10, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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