Graham says Trump should be ready to send "strongest signal possible" to Iran

Sen. Lindsey Graham discusses Iran
Sen. Lindsey Graham discusses Iran 02:36

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged President Trump to prepare to send the "strongest signal possible" to Iran if the government in Tehran fulfills its threat to breach the limits on uranium supply established by the 2015 nuclear agreement next week. 

"I hope the president understands that if they begin enrichment on July the 7, that he needs to get ready to send the strongest signal possible that this cannot be tolerated," Graham said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.  

The South Carolina Republican, considered a hawk on foreign policy, did not elaborate on what kind of "signal" he would support if the Iranian government passes the uranium supply cap. 

Earlier this month, amid escalating tensions with Washington, Tehran threatened to violate some of the restrictions set forth by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) brokered with the Obama administration. The threat came days after the U.S. said Iran attacked two commercial oil tankers in the Gulf Oman and three days before Iranian forces downed a U.S. Navy drone in the Strait of Hormuz — a move which prompted the president to order, and then call off, a limited military strike against Iran.  

Iranian officials have signaled that the country's decision to stop honoring some of the limitations of their agreement with the U.S. is justified since the Trump administration withdrew from it last year and has imposed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy. 

Echoing concerns by the administration, Graham claimed the intended moves by the Tehran will place Iran on a "pathway" to a nuclear bomb — something he said will pose a grave national security threat to both the U.S. and its staunch ally Israel, and destabilize the entire Middle East. He warned that a full-blown war could break out between Israel and Iran if Tehran restarted its nuclear program. 

"The most likely war would be between Israel and Iran if the Iranians started to reprocess and enrich beginning July the 7 in a manner that would accelerate their path to a bomb," Graham said. "Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. The world should not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran."

The South Carolina Republican said he is not concerned about Iran and other Arab nations having nuclear power programs, but stressed that none of them should be able to enrich or reprocess uranium — which he believes will allow them to build a nuclear arsenal. 

"Nuclear power? Yes. A pathway to a bomb? No," he said. 

  • Camilo Montoya-Galvez
    Camilo Montoya-Galvez On Twitter»

    Camilo Montoya-Galvez is the immigration reporter at CBS News. Based in Washington, he covers immigration policy and politics. Twitter: @camiloreports