GOP dismisses Iran nuclear negotiations

Senate Republicans said they were unimpressed by the Iranian nuclear negotiations over the weekend, saying the talks with six world powers were merely buying more time for Iran to continue enriching uranium.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.) mocked the negotiations, which European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, the lead negotiator for six world powers, had called "constructive."

“I think it’s a wonderful turn of events. Now they’re talking and then they’re going to talk some more,” McCain told reporters sarcastically Tuesday. “I am exuberant actually that they are going to talk some more.”

McCain said it was tough to see how the talks would accomplish anything beyond “a stalling tactic on the part of the Iranians.”

McCain ally Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (R-S.C.) said the Obama administration should drop negotiations with Iran and make demands to stop Tehran's nuclear program.

“We’ve been negotiating for years with little to show for it,” Graham told reporters. “We’ve come to a point now we basically need to give demands to the Iranians saying 'these are the three things we want you to do.' ”

The Obama administration has defended its diplomatic route with Iran after the talks between Tehran and the P5+1 group — the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany — got under way this weekend. The two sides agreed to hold a second round of talks in Baghdad next month.

President Obama pushed back against criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took a similar line as the GOP in calling the negotiations a “freebie” for Iran.

Obama said at a press conference Sunday that the notion Iran received a “freebie” was wrong because Iran has not gotten anything out of the talks, as sanctions remain in place.

Both McCain and Graham support a bipartisan Senate bill for new economic sanctions against Iran. The bill quickly passed out of committee earlier this year but was held up in March by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE (R-Ky.), who objected to expedited passage of the bill over Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.) not allowing amendments.

Paul wants to offer an amendment that says nothing in the measure “is to be construed as a declaration of war or as an authorization of the use of force in Iran or Syria.”

Reid told reporters Tuesday that he wanted to move quickly on the Iran sanctions bill, and that his staff was meeting Tuesday with “interested parties” to try and find a way out of the stalemate. He did not give a specific timeline, however.

“Each day that goes by without Iran feeling more of our censorship, I think that's too bad for the world and helpful to Iran,” Reid said. “We need to move forward on this as quickly as possible.”