Royce: Time to prepare new sanctions on Iran

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday said the Obama administration should begin preparing additional sanctions on Iran as the deadline for a deal on the country’s nuclear program draws closer. 

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks Tuesday on the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran signal it is time to begin preparing sanctions as an interim agreement is set to expire Sunday. 

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"In light of Secretary Kerry’s comments today in Vienna that ‘very real gaps’ remain between Iran and the international community, my hope is that the administration will finally engage in robust discussions with Congress about preparing additional sanctions against Iran,” he said in a statement. 

Kerry is traveling from Vienna to Washington on Tuesday to brief President Obama on the status of nuclear negotiations between the United States, Iran and five other countries. He said progress has been made on a long-term deal to scale back Iran's nuclear program but gaps remain on key issues. Kerry said he would consult with Congress about whether an extension is warranted. 

"I am returning to Washington today to consult with President Obama and with leaders in Congress over the coming days about the prospects for a comprehensive agreement, as well as a path forward if we do not achieve one by the 20th of July, including the question of whether or not more time is warranted, based on the progress we've made and how things are going," Kerry said earlier in the day. 

Royce signaled an extension would not yield results, saying '“Iran’s Supreme Leader has made clear that Iran will not agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. In fact, he seeks to expand it.”

Royce has been skeptical of the interim six-month deal, hashed out last year, that lifted some U.S. sanctions in exchange for Iran taking steps aimed at limiting its nuclear program. 

When the deal was first signed, Royce urged the Senate to take up a package of additional sanctions in order to put extra pressure on Iran during the negotiations, something the administration predicted could interfere with talks.

Quoting Kerry's previous words, Royce said, "No deal is better than a bad deal."