GOP senator: Obama 'soft on tough dictators'

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Wednesday that the Obama administration is “soft on tough dictators.”

Barrasso, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, was pushing back at Vice President Biden’s tough rhetoric against Iran, arguing that Iran is moving forward in pursuit of a nuclear weapon despite U.S. sanctions.

“This to me is an administration soft on tough dictators and tough on soft dictators,” Barrasso said. “And what I see is an administration that stood silent when there were protesters rising up in the streets of Iran.”

Speaking Wednesday on CNN's "Starting Point With Soledad O’Briend," Barrasso also accused the administration of trying to water down the sanctions that were eventually imposed upon Tehran.

“We see the sanctions the Senate tried to offer,” Barrasso continued. “And the president and vice president fought those when it was obvious we were going to get things passed to make it tougher on Iran, then the White House tried to weaken those sanctions.”

The administration had initially pushed for a slower implementation of the sanctions to see if certain aspects, such as cutting Iran off from the international banking system, which had never been done to any country before, might have peripheral geopolitical ramifications, but Obama ultimately signed the more aggressive legislation.

Barrasso’s comments come on the heels of Biden’s speech to the Rabbinical Assembly’s annual convention in Atlanta on Tuesday, in which he used the Obama administration’s sharpest rhetoric to date in its commitment to protecting Israel from its enemies in Tehran, saying that the window for diplomacy with Iranian officials was closing and predicting that the country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would be ousted within two years.

The vice president argued that the Iranian regime was already crumbling amid pressure from the United States and its allies, and said the administration’s commitment to “going the last diplomatic mile” with Iran was already paying off, and would diminish the severity of a potential future armed conflict with the country.

Biden also stated that the administration’s policy is not one of containment, and that it will act “by whatever means necessary” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Barrasso, the head of the Republican Policy Committee and Sen. Charles Schumer's (D-N.Y.) counterpart in the Senate, painted a starkly different picture.

“Iran is not, in my opinion, being impacted significantly to the point that they are going to listen to world opinion and stop their efforts to develop nuclear weapons,” he said. “But the reality is, they're going to continue to work in an aggressive nature toward that, and it seems to me to be accelerating and not slowing down.”