Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' GOP disappointment with McConnell deal could delay vote MORE (D-Md.) said Monday that if Iran did not reach a satisfactory deal on its nuclear program, lawmakers would tighten sanctions on Tehran.
"The best case is to have an effective arrangement with Iran where they give up their nuclear weapon ambition," said Cardin who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on MSNBC's " The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart."
"If they don't, sanctions will be tightened," he added.
The senator said he hoped for a deal, but in the absence of one, "we will continue to isolate Iran as much as we can."
Cardin said he hoped other nations would cooperate to reimpose other sanctions suspended during the talks.
"But we would pass stronger sanctions in the United States Congress and we would hope the international community would follow us," he said.
U.S. and international negotiators are trying to reach a framework for a deal that would seek Iran curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief by a Tuesday midnight edeadline.
Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes but the international community says it is developing weapons.
The final deadline for a deal is June 30.
The negotiations have sparked concerns from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The White House has threatened to veto any sanctions legislation while talks continue.
Democrats in Congress agreed to hold off support for such legislation until after the March deadline for a framework deal, but are poised to back two bills when they return from recess in mid-April.
One bill would restore sanctions on Iran if it walks away from negotiations or violates any deal, and the other would allow Congress time to approve the deal.
Cardin said Congress had a responsibility to be involved in overseeing any deal, and in lifting congressionally imposed sanctions on Iran.
"It was Congress that imposed the sanctions. Only Congress can permanently remove the sanctions," he said.
Cardin said Congress should make sure that the agreement would prevent Iran from secretly developing a nuclear weapon in a short period of time.
He also argued for open inspections so that if Iran does not follow its commitments, U.S. and United Nations sanctions could snap back into place.
According to reports from Switzerland, where the negotiations are taking place, there are still disagreements between both sides, most recently on whether Iran should ship most of its enriched uranium which is needed to build a bomb outside of the country.