The U.S. and European Union (EU) have enacted sanctions against Iran over its nuclear energy program. While Tehran insists the program is for peaceful energy purposes, the U.S. and EU fear Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability.
The Obama administration says that all options are on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran, but is focused on a diplomatic solution. The White House has faced intense pressure from GOP lawmakers who say the president has failed to take strong steps to dissuade Iran's nuclear quest.
Royce's remarks come on the same day that 38 national-security experts, former lawmakers and government officials warned in a new report that international sanctions against Iran were having little effect on Tehran's decisionmaking and were instead creating diplomatic problems for the U.S.
The California lawmaker said the Obama administration has balked at taking steps toward “crippling the Iranian economy.”
“Frankly,” he said, “that's just what we need to do.”
“We need sanctions that are going to turn the Iranian people against the regime as fast as they can be turned. Iran's leadership must feel that their survival is at great risk if they continue on the nuclear path," Royce continued. “And if they don't see it that way and relent, with broad sanctions we have a better chance of bringing about the fundamental type of government change that would better assure a non-nuclear Iran.”
To get across the message that America's fight is with Iran's Islamic regime and not its people, Royce added, the United States needs to beef up its Farsi-language communications.
“It is every day that we are missing opportunities with our ineffectual public diplomacy,” he said. “Public diplomacy is a critical mission, even more so in this digital age, but it's one that gets lost among traditional state-to-state relations. So, public diplomacy is an area that I'll be bearing down as committee chairman as well.”