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Carney Refuses To Answer If Obama Would Veto New Iran Sanctions

• December 3, 2013 2:54 pm

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White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to answer whether President Obama would veto new Iran sanctions should Congress pass such a bill Tuesday in the White House press conference.

Carney emphasized the administration believes passing new sanctions would somehow undermine the current "core sanctions architecture," an odd statement from the White House considering the Geneva deal offers sanctions relief for the Iranians.

ABC reporter Jonathan Karl repeated his question after Carney's lengthy dodge, which the spokesperson again sidestepped. "I don't have a statement of administration policy on a specific bill," Carney said:

Q: Back to Iran, just a clarification on the sanctions bill. If Congress were to pass such a bill, would the president veto it?

MR. CARNEY: Jon, all I can tell you is that we strongly believe that passing new sanctions now will result in our international partners as well as Iran seeing us as having negotiated that agreement in bad faith, which would then have a bearing on our core sanctions architecture. So the passing of new sanctions during this period would actually undermine the overall core sanctions architecture, which this administration took the lead in building with our international partners and with the essential assistance of Congress.

So I think our view and our position, which we've expressed clearly in many meetings with members of Congress, is that the sanctions regime that they helped us build has provided this opportunity. It has succeeded in the sense that the sanctions were designed to pressure Tehran into changing its behavior. And because of the impact of the sanctions, Tehran has changed its behavior or indicated that it is willing to change its behavior.

And we had a series of negotiations with the P-5 plus one in Geneva. That result of that — of those negotiations was the agreement, the preliminary agreement reached by the P-5 plus one with Iran. And we now foresee implementation of that agreement.

And if Iran abides by the elements of that agreement, it will result in the positive development that there is a halt to progress in their nuclear program, as well as the rolling back of elements of that program, which would essentially put time on the clock as we continue to test the theory that Iran is willing to take the necessary steps to assure the world — the United Nations and everyone else — that it will abide by its international commitments and will, in a verifiable, transparent way, forsake any ambitions for a nuclear weapons program.

We believe that Congress should hold in reserve the options of — the option of passing new sanctions. If the moment arises when Iran has failed to comply with this agreement and that taking that action would have a positive result, as opposed to the negative result that I just mentioned.

Q: I understand, but my question's a very simple one: Would the president veto a new sanctions bill?

MR. CARNEY: I — first of all, there's no a — I don't have a statement of administration policy on a specific bill. What I can tell you is we strongly oppose, for all the reasons I discussed, and we are engaged in discussions with numerous lawmakers about this issue, the passage of new sanctions at this time because of the reasons I just enumerated.