Republicans Stall Iran Sanctions: 'Too Soft'

Senate Republicans: bill needs to say United States will use force to stop any nuclear weapons program.

Gil Ronen ,

Obama with USAF Col. Michael Minihan
Obama with USAF Col. Michael Minihan

Senate Republicans blocked package of sanctions against Iran on Thursday because the bill's wording was not tough enough in their opinion. The GOP senators said that besides listing economic sanctions, the bill needs to say that the United States is prepared to use force to stop any nuclear weapons program.

"I just want to add one simple line that says we recognize what the president was saying that military force is also an option," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on the floor during the debate over the bill.

Republicans agreed that the bill as it is worded at present would signal a step back from Obama's stated policy that he would do "anything necessary" to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

According to The Hill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who has sponsored a separate use of force resolution with Graham and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), said the senators should be able to reach agreement sometime Thursday on necessary changes to the bill.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Republicans to pass the bill in its present form but agreed that the Senate should be on record as determining that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

If it passes Thursday, the bill's timing will send a message to Iran just days before next week's talks in Baghdad between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.