Menendez: Not Just Iran Sanctions Needed, But Senate Needs to Define 'Acceptable' Endgame

"So we've negotiated a six-month agreement a month ago but we don't know when the actual start date is?" Corker asked in disbelief.

"It will happen in the next few weeks," she said. "I don't want to set a date today."

Corker noted in the closed-door conversations at the White House, where President Obama and his aides tried whipping lawmakers to support the Iran deal and not anger Tehran with new sanctions, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) suggested that the interim agreement needs a fixed end date.

"You can understand why folks on our side would be concerned," Corker said.

"I do think that we are stepping away from base UN Security Council agreements and I think what Congress wants to see happen is that not occur and I think that's why you've seen such reaction," he  said. "…And they're not gonna violate this agreement -- it's an outstanding agreement for them, because in six months they're gonna be a normal international entity."

"I don't see any way you hold the sanctions, but again we' re obviously disappointed but hopeful that somehow you can put the genie back in the bottle and end up with some type of agreement that averts warfare. Because all of us do want to see this succeed… I don't know how we get there with an interim deal framed the way this one is."

The sanctions enforcement announced by the Treasury and State departments included the designation of companies and individuals for evading international sanctions against Iran and for providing support for Iran’s nuclear program.

“The Joint Plan of Action reached in Geneva does not, and will not, interfere with our continued efforts to expose and disrupt those supporting Iran’s nuclear program or seeking to evade our sanctions. These sanctions have isolated Iran from the international financial system, imposed enormous pressure on the Iranian economy, and motivated the Iranian leadership to make the first meaningful concessions on its nuclear program in over a decade,” said Cohen. “Today’s actions should be a stark reminder to businesses, banks and brokers everywhere that we will continue relentlessly to enforce our sanctions, even as we explore the possibility of a long-term, comprehensive resolution of our concerns with Iran’s nuclear program.”

Over at the White House, press secretary Jay Carney refused to predict what sanctions action might be coming from Congress.

"We continue to make very clear to Congress our view that now is not the time to vote on additional sanctions -- to vote for additional sanctions, because doing so would threaten to divide the P5-plus-1 and to empower Iran's hardliners," he said. "…I will say that we are communicating that message as clearly as we can, and I think, importantly, making the point to those who are focused on this issue that this is not about whether you're for or against sanctions. This administration has been more aggressively for sanctions than any of its predecessors and in a way that ensured we could create the kind of international consensus behind the view that Iran was the problem than has ever been seen."

Two years ago, though, Menendez was ripping on the Obama administration in a Foreign Relations hearing for opposing sanctions.

"That says to me in the future that when you come to me, and ask me to engage in a good-faith effort, I have to -- you should have said you want no amendment, not that you don't care for that amendment," he said in December 2011, tearing into the White House for saying it would work with him on a sanctions amendment.

"The clock is ticking. The published reports say we have about a year. Now when are we going to start our sanctions regime robustly? Six months before the clock has been achieved? Before they get a nuclear weapon?"