Emboldened Iran hawks eager to press Tehran on nuclear violations under Trump

Hawks critical of the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran over the past eight years were in a distinctly upbeat mood as they took over an ornate Senate caucus room Thursday to promote their cause. The incoming Trump administration, many said, understands their case and the threat posed by the regime in Tehran far better than President Obama ever did.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, were among the lawmakers saying Mr. Trump and the team he is assembling will clearly be more skeptical of Iran and ready to call out any violations of the multinational nuclear deal Mr. Obama helped negotiate in 2015.

“There is every reason to believe and be hopeful that the president-elect will take a new set of eyes and a new approach to this theocracy. I’m very hopeful that will happen,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, told the briefing on the policy options on Iran held in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Mr. McCain said he was heartened by Mr. Trump’s choice of James N. Mattis to head the Defense Department, saying the retired Marine general was deeply familiar with the threat posed by Tehran to the U.S. and its regional allies. Gen. Mattis has criticized the Iran nuclear deal as “imperfect” and said in an April speech that “the Iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”

“I don’t know, frankly, what Donald Trump wants to do [about Iran], but I do know the people he has selected so far for major positions I’ve been very pleased to see,” the Arizona Republican said.

The Capitol Hill event itself marked another step in the remarkable evolution of its organizer, the Paris-based National