WASHINGTON — Calling it a dangerous policy of weakness and capitulation, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton called Tuesday for an end to what he described as "sham negotiations" the Obama administration is conducting with Iran over its nuclear program.

WASHINGTON — Calling it a dangerous policy of weakness and capitulation, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton called Tuesday for an end to what he described as "sham negotiations" the Obama administration is conducting with Iran over its nuclear program.


"We need a shift in policy to a clear-eyed and hard-nosed policy of strength based on America’s interests and the threat posed by Iran. The goal must be clear — regime change," the Arkansas Republican said in a speech at The Heritage Foundation. "The United States should cease all appeasement, conciliation and concessions toward Iran, starting with these sham nuclear negotiations."


Cotton said Congress should pass new "crippling" sanctions against Iran and make clear to its "radical Islamist tyrannical regime" that the United States is prepared to take military action if necessary to severely set back Iran’s nuclear program. As a signal of that intent, Cotton said Congress should offer Israel surplus B-52 bombers and bunker buster bombs.


Cotton, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a long-standing critic of President Obama’s foreign policy and offered similar views as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 113th Congress and as a candidate for U.S. Senate last year.


The Heritage speech comes as Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to meet Wednesday in Geneva with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as the latest deadline for negotiations nears for reaching a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear development.


In November 2013, Iran signed an agreement with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany, that temporarily stopped or rolled back its production of potentially weapons-grade nuclear material. In exchange, some economic sanctions against Iran were eased. The deal was extended last November for four more months as the parties continued to negotiate a permanent agreement.


Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, cautioned against a new round of sanctions against Iran, saying the result would likely bring the current talks to an abrupt end.


"If new sanctions were imposed, Iran would be able to blame the U.S. for sabotaging the negotiations and causing the collapse of the process, and we would lose the chance to peacefully resolve a major national security challenge," she said during a speech Monday at the University of Louisville.


Cotton said Tuesday that stopping the current negotiations would be in the best interest of the United States.


"What started as an unwise policy has now descended into a dangerous farce," Cotton said. "One can only suspect an unspoken entente between the Obama administraton and Iran: the U.S. won’t impose new sanctions on Iran and we will allow it to build threshhold nuclear capabilities while Iran won’t assemble a bomb until 2017."