At the start of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Sunday, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both called for strict oversight of the Iranian nuclear program in any deal that is reached with the Islamic Republic.
Graham said he is “glad we’re negotiating” with Iran because nobody wants a war. But Congress should “look at the deal, debate the deal, and vote on the deal” that the P5+1 powers reach with Iran, he said. The deadline for a political framework agreement in the Iran talks is March 24.
“Between now and when that day [a deal is reached] comes, let us commit ourselves to make sure that as many eyes are on this deal before it becomes binding,” said Graham, who said that a bad deal with Iran would constitute “locking in place an enrichment program that is only monitored by the U.N. (United Nations).”
Cardin said the nuclear deal “has to be a very transparent agreement” with “inspectors there on the ground, [with] total access to all parts of Iran.”
One of 11 Senate Democrats who currently supports increased sanctions against Iran if no framework deal is reached by March 24, Cardin said sanctions are the only reason that Iran is negotiating with the U.S. and other world powers.
“We’ve got to keep the heat on. … I have no doubt that Congress will pass stronger sanctions if there’s no agreement reached,” he said.
Graham noted that the Iranians have “toppled four Arab capitals”-in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq-and would likely use sanctions-relief money to further ramp up their regional military efforts.
“These are the people we’re trying to negotiate with about a nuclear weapon. What would they do if they had a nuclear weapon?… Understand who you’re dealing with,” Graham said, adding that Iran would destroy Israel if it could. Arab nations who have not built nuclear capability in response to Israel’s alleged nuclear program, because they trust Israel not to wipe them off the map, would not “trust the Shi’a Persians (Iran) with nuclear capability,” said Graham.