By Silla Brush and Bridget Johnson - 10/04/09 02:06 PM EDT
Senate Democrats and Republicans on Sunday called for Congress to debate new economic sanctions on Iran amid new reports that the country has the necessary information to design and produce a workable nuclear bomb.
In a confidential analysis, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that Iran has the necessary research, but does not indicate how far along Iran is in building an actual weapon, according to The New York Times.
"We need to bring a real sense of urgency to this issue," said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). "The clock is running. We need to have tough sanctions.
"Having this dialogue is good but what’s important is holding them to what they do, not what they say," Bayh said.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said that "every possible option" should be on the table with regard to sanctions. Casey emphasized legislation that is intended to move pension fund assets out of companies that do business with Iran.
"We should at least give the president all of he tools he needs to impose sanctions," Casey said. "We cannot allow talking and negotiation to replace strong action."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the Senate should hold an "Iran week" to hold votes on sanctions bills.
Democrats and Republicans said they were hoping to tailor the sanctions so as not to target the Iranian public and apply maximum pressure on the regime.
Graham said that if sanctions fail and a military route is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the United States -- not Israel -- should lead the effort. Graham said that such an attack should not only target nuclear facilities.
"We should destroy their ability to make conventional war," Graham said. "That would be the last resort."
On "Meet the Press," U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice would not comment on the report in the Times, saying "our whole approach is predicated on an urgent need" to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability.
"We're in a period of intense negotiations now," Rice said, referring to the talks between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany in Switzerland last week. She echoed President Barack Obama's assessment that the talks were a "constructive," but "only a beginning."
Host David Gregory pressed Rice on what the deadlines for Iran were now, considering that the adminstration had previously indicated the Islamic Republic had until September's G-20 meeting to make progress on coming clean with its nuclear program, which Iran claims is solely for peaceful energy purposes.
Rice refused to set a deadline while stressing that Iran's compliance in the near future would indicate a "degree of seriousness not seen before."
"We're not interested in talking for talking's sake," Rice said, noting that Iran will have to meet a "very finite" period of deadlines in October if it wasnts to come back to the negotiating table in a month.
That includes an Oct. 25 visit to the Qom reactor by the IAEA, which was announced Sunday by agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei.
"It is important for us to have comprehensive cooperation over the Qom site. We had dialogue, we had talks on clarification of the facility in Qom, which is a pilot enrichment plant," ElBaradei said at a news conference in Tehran.