Lindsey Graham, Phone, ARC

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at a luncheon Tuesday jointly hosted by the Aiken Republican Club and the Aiken County Republican Party.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday warned Iran likely has aspirations for a nuclear weapon, not nuclear power, comments that come as the U.S. jockeys with the Middle Eastern country and international attention is trained on the Strait of Hormuz, a now-embattled shipping lane.

According to the senior South Carolina Republican, there's "no good deal" that allows Iran to enrich and reprocess uranium and plutonium, material that can be used for weapons purposes.

"They can have nuclear power. The Arabs can have nuclear power. But the fuel has to be supplied outside the Mid East," Graham said, speaking to reporters in Aiken. "If Iran won't accept that deal, it tells you all you need to know about their ambitions."

The Trump administration pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year. The administration has since slapped Tehran with sanctions.

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, made a surprise visit to the recent G-7 world leaders meeting in France, which was widely reported. Zarif on  Aug. 25 said on Twitter he had met with French President Emmanuel Macron. He included two photos.

"Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying," the foreign minister's tweet reads.

Graham on Tuesday said the sidelines meeting was a "low blow by France."

"I thought it was unfair to the president to put him in that box," the senator said, referencing Trump. "I don't mind talking with the Iranians, but we're not going to lift sanctions."

Graham, a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in May cautioned Iran not to provoke the U.S.: "I don't want a war with Iran, but I want Iran to understand that if they choose to attack us, there will be a war, and they will lose it."

"Again, I don't want a war," he later added, "but I don't want to be bullied by Iran."

The senator during a hearing earlier this year described himself as a "pretty hawkish guy."

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin