Rep. Royce questions U.S. offer to ease sanctions on Iran

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said on Wednesday that the easing of sanctions on Iran could eliminate U.S. leverage during ongoing denuclearization talks.

Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the remarks as part of his opening statement during a hearing on Iran and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's first 100 days in office. Royce said the Obama Administration is seeking an interim agreement in which Iran places some limits on its nuclear program for six months in return for as much as $50 billion in frozen oil revenues being released. The agreement was not reached during negotiations in Geneva.

Royce said it was fortunate no agreement was reached, given certain flaws in how well the agreement would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapon capacity.

"Of great concern, the proposal failed to adequately address Iran's heavy water reactor, would allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium, and even continue building centrifuges," Royce said. "There is growing concern in Congress that the outlines of this agreement do not meet the standards needed to protect the U.S. and our allies."

According to Royce, the Obama Administration plans to let Iran enrich uranium to low levels. Royce referred to reports from nonproliferation experts stating that low enriched uranium represents seven-tenths of the effort toward weapons grade uranium.

Royce also said that sanctions forced Iran to the table and that more sanctions will compel Iran to make lasting and meaningful concessions.

"The Iranian regime hasn't 'paused' its nuclear program, why should we pause our sanctions efforts, as the administration is pressuring Congress to do?" Royce said. "Only when the Iranian regime is forced to decide between economic collapse or compromise on its rush to develop a nuclear weapons capability, do we have a chance to avoid that terrible outcome."