Lew tells AIPAC: Sanctions have worked

Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewOvernight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint Obama-era Treasury secretary: Tax law will make bipartisan deficit-reduction talks harder GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system MORE spoke to Israel's top lobbying organization on Sunday, touting the Obama administration's handling of Iran to a skeptical crowd.

Lew, the highest-ranking Jewish member of the administration, told the crowd at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual meeting that the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran have worked, and the deal struck to temporarily suspend some sanctions in exchange for Iran moving away from its plans to develop a nuclear weapon should be supported by the group.

"Initially, many claimed that sanctions on Iran would never work. But we have proven exactly the opposite," Lew told the crowd. "The vast majority of our sanctions remain in place. ... All options remain on the table to block Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has been harshly critical of the deal to suspend some sanctions, and many more hawkish AIPAC members and supporters have agreed, including a number of congressmen from both parties. Those lawmakers have pushed for increased sanctions as a response to the interim agreement, meant as a first step toward Iran suspending its program to developing a nuclear weapon.

Lew sought to reassure the crowd that the sanctions regime was still largely in place and crippling Iran's economy.

"We do not need new sanctions now," Lew said, warning that new sanctions could "derail" negotiations.

Lew promised that, if Iran didn't prove it had changed course, the administration would ratchet up sanctions once again.

"This is not a case of trust and verify. This is a case of verify everything," he said.