By Jeremy Herb - 03/08/12 08:15 PM EST
The central bank sanctions and a European Union oil embargo passed in January have damaged Iran’s economy, which has seen the value of its currency plummet.
Sherman said that he wants sanctions that go “pedal to the metal” against Iran, so they are harmful enough that they endanger the Iranian regime. He questioned whether Iran truly wanted to negiotiate in good faith.
“Iran is playing for time,” Sherman told The Hill. “They’d like to have a nuclear weapon, and they will go all out to develop a nuclear weapon, unless they believe the efforts to create a nuclear weapon endandger their surivial.”
President Obama has said the sanctions against Iran are working and will help lead to a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program.
Sherman said the United States must continue to impose the toughest possible sanctions until Iran gives up its nuclear weapons program. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, while the United States and its allies say Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.
“The only possible reason why they will negotiate in good faith rather than the delay tactics they’ve been using for a dcade now is if these sanctions are harsh and immediate,” Sherman said.
The bill would also expand efforts against Swift, a European-based global financial communications network, to stop processing transactions for Iranian banks. Without Swift, Iranian banks would have a more difficult time conducting transactions with other countries.
Sherman's bill was introduced Thursday, and Kirk's version will be introduced as an amendment next week, according to a senior congressional aide.
— This post was updated at 3:51 p.m.