If you’re an AIPAC lobbyist, you can tell how good of a job you’re doing by how many new rounds of sanctions you get imposed on Iran during any given year. The past twelve months have been lean times, with an interim nuclear deal and negotiations stalling any new sanctions bills.
Lots of Congressmen will go along with AIPAC as a matter of course, but some didn’t need any convincing. This is particularly true of the incoming Senate leadership, including John McCain (R – AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who werealready demanding sanctions and veto power over any future deal.
The interim nuclear deal in place requires Iran to keep its enrichment to a low level, in return for some sanctions relief. Imposing new sanctions now would violate that pact, and would throw the talks into doubt. That, of course, is not lost on those officials, so while they insist they want the sanctions for “leverage,” sabotaging the talks is very much the point.