Carney Won’t Say Whether White House Seeking to Bypass Congress on Iran Deal

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White House spokesman Jay Carney wouldn’t directly answer a question Wednesday about whether the White House is seeking to bypass Congress on a deal with Iran to roll back economic sanctions.

The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday that the administration has explored such options. The issue of sanctions relief for Iran has been one of intense infighting among Democrats, with key lawmakers pushing to increase economic penalties and the Obama administration trying to roll them back.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Carney if the White House could strike a deal with Iran without congressional approval.

“I haven’t seen that assessment made because it presupposes what is the only acceptable outcome to these negotiations, which is a verifiable, transparent agreement by Iran to forsake its nuclear weapons ambitions,” Carney said. “And, you know, the promise of that for Iran is that by coming into compliance with its international obligations, by offering, in a way that is 100 percent reassuring to the P5+1 and our international partners and allies, that they will not pursue and cannot pursue a nuclear weapon.”

Full exchange:

JON KARL: Jay, can I ask a question on the Iran — the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue? Is it the White House’s belief that if you can reach an agreement with the Iranians that those sanctions can be lifted without congressional approval? Can further sanctions be lifted? Obviously you’ve done some steps, which you’re able to do without congressional approval, but can you strike a deal with Iran, lift sanctions without Congress ok-ing it?

JAY CARNEY: I haven’t seen that assessment made because it presupposes what is the only acceptable outcome to these negotiations, which is a verifiable, transparent agreement by Iran to forsake its nuclear weapons ambitions.

And, you know, the promise of that for Iran is that by coming into compliance with its international obligations, by offering, in a way that is 100 percent reassuring to the P5+1 and our international partners and allies, that they will not pursue and cannot pursue a nuclear weapon. There will be an opportunity for Iran to, you know, end its isolated state that its violation of its international obligations has brought upon it.

So — but how that process would work, I think, is — I think it’s a little early to discuss that, because the six-month period that we’ve been talking about for the negotiations over a comprehensive solution is only just beginning.