Royce: 'Ratchet up' sanctions on Iran

The top lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee expressed skepticism about the Iran agreement on Sunday, with the panel’s chairman saying the U.S. should instead “ratchet up” sanctions.

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Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the panel, said that the economic sanctions against Iran were clearly working and should be intensified until Iran agreed to give up its nuclear program.

“Until they do that, they’re still on the road to having the capability for undetectable nuclear weapons break out,” Royce said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“And that’s the bottom line: We just feel more pressure needs to be brought on Iran, rather than to make this deal and take the pressure off.”

Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the committee’s top Democrat, said Congress needed to do what it could to make the deal work. But Engel was also clearly disappointed that the deal didn’t explicitly bar Iran from enriching uranium and said that sanctions would still have to be on the table.

“I don’t think you make them bargain in good faith by going squishy,” Engel said.

Royce said the idea, floated by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to have Congress pass sanctions that would go in effect in six months was the best lawmakers could do now.

“Here’s the unfortunate thing: We had put enormous pressure on Iran, and it was having an impact internally,” Royce said.