Senate to grill official on Iran

The Senate Foreign Relations panel has scheduled a hearing on Iran's nuclear weapons program for Thursday, following President Obama's calls for renewed diplomacy.

The State Department's under secretary for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, is scheduled to testify during the hearing on “Reversing Iran's Nuclear Program.” The hearing comes after Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Friday in the first direct exchange between presidents of the two countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a hawk on Iran, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he was “underwhelmed” with Rouhani's overtures during his visit to the U.N. General Assembly last week. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Obama's toughest foreign policy critics, joined Menendez in the op-ed.

“In the coming days,” the lawmakers wrote, “we will be outspoken in our support for furthering sanctions against Iran, requiring countries to again reduce their purchases of Iranian petroleum and imposing further prohibitions on strategic sectors of the Iranian economy.”

Menendez has long championed further sanctions on Iran. Graham for his part has said he is working on legislation that would authorize the president to attack Iran in case of an impasse on the nuclear issue.

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