Top GOP Senator: ‘The Time For Talking’ With Iran ‘Is Over’

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On Fox News Sunday this morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the United States should end talks with Iran over its disputed nuclear program. The South Carolina Republican was responding to a question from host Chris Wallace about a New York Times story published last night reporting that the U.S. and Iran have agreed “in principle” for one-on-one negotiations.

But Graham dismissed the notion of talking to Iran. He didn’t outright called for war but he also never presented an alternative to talks, adding later in an extended tirade against the Obama administration that, “nothing is working. The whole region is falling apart”:

WALLACE: What do you think of one on one talks with Iran and what to you make of the timing of this coming out two weeks before the election?

GRAHAM: Well I think the Iranians are trying to take advantage of our election cycle to continue to talk. As we talk with the Iranians whether it’s bilaterally or unilaterally, they continue to enrich. And the vice president and the president said we will do nothing without coordinating with Israel. So we’ve talked with them in Moscow. We’ve talked with them in Baghdad. They continue to enrich. I think the time for talking is over. We should be demanding transparency and access to their nuclear program. They’ve doubled their centrifuges so I think this is a ploy by the Iranians. I hope we’re talking to the Israelis and as we continue to talk, they continue to enrich and they’re trying to break apart the coalition.

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The Times report quoted veteran diplomat R. Nicholas Burns, who led negotiations with Iran during the George W. Bush administration, saying, “It would be unconscionable to go to war if we haven’t had such discussions,” referring to the one-on-one talks. Burns added, “While we should preserve the use of force as a last resort, negotiating first with Iran makes sense. What are we going to do instead? Drive straight into a brick wall called war in 2013, and not try to talk to them?” Yet Graham wants to end talks now.

Graham is right that Iran continues to enrich uranium, which is in violation of United Nations resolutions calling on the Islamic Republic to suspend enrichment. Iran is currently enriching uranium to up to 20 percent purity. But uranium needs to be enriched to 90 percent purity to be used in a nuclear weapon, and according to U.S. and Israeli intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran’s leaders have yet to make the decision to build a nuclear weapon. Moreover, as experts and U.S. officials have said, the international community would know if Iran decides to enrich uranium to bomb-grade purity because its nuclear program is continuously monitored by the IAEA.