Admin: 'No' on Iran Sanctions, 'Maybe' on … Israel Sanctions?
“For me, the time has come to ask whether repeated negotiation extensions coupled with sanctions relief will ever result in a comprehensive deal. Iran benefits from successive rounds of unfreezing of assets abroad, and has not felt the need to make any real concessions beyond the requirements of the interim agreement," Menendez continued.
“The assumption seems to be that another extension will result in a good deal – and all we need to do is continue negotiating – put more time on the nuclear breakout clock. My own perspective is more time won’t make a difference. Tehran’s desire for a nuclear program has not changed – and it won’t change. Iran is only negotiating because it wants economic relief and is betting that more time on the clock benefits its position."
Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said they received a classified briefing about Iran on Thursday, the day after the hearing.
In an interview with Bloomberg that day, Corker, who will take the gavel from Menendez in the 114th Congress, sounded a bit more cautious on sanctions.
"I have been in the minority and I've tried to work in every way I can in a bipartisan way with Chairman Menendez but also with the White House," Corker said. "...I think there's going to be a genuine search to figure out the best way that Congress can play a role."
"I'm a co-sponsor on the Menendez bill that establishes new sanctions in the event a deal isn't reached. It's been difficult to understand how that's problematic in the negotiations to say that we're not imposing sanctions now but if for some reason we go down this route and the deal breaks apart, we're going to add sanctions. It's difficult to understand how that's problematic."
At Wednesday's hearing, Corker said the fear of "rolling extensions" of the talks had come to fruition, noting that "the longer Iran waits, things continue to get better and better and better for them."
The Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), called this week for tougher sanctions on Iran, saying Obama violated a promise in his State of the Union address that he would be “the first to call for more sanctions” if Iran failed to reach an agreement with the P5+1.
"This latest extension of sanctions relief for Iran violates the president’s promises to the American people. First, he said the sanctions relief provided to Iran would be 'limited' and 'temporary.' With the extension, that relief appears to have become limitless and permanent," the RPC said.
"He should call on Congress to send him a bill imposing increased sanctions on Iran before departing for the year, and Congress should deliver it. Barring that, it should be an early order of business for the next Congress in January."
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said Monday that Obama "should toughen sanctions enforcement, and Congress should quickly take up new bipartisan sanctions legislation."
"Despite significant concessions by the P5+1 – which would have allowed Iran to maintain most of its nuclear infrastructure – Tehran still refuses to take the steps needed to reach a good deal," the AIPAC memo said. "Increased pressure offers the best chance to persuade Tehran to abandon its quest for a nuclear weapons capability."
As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said after the latest negotiation extension was announced: “The centrifuges are spinning and will never stop."