White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday it was "entirely likely" and "even expected" that Iran will continue to support terrorism as it receives tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief through the Iran nuclear deal.
The deal brokered by the Obama administration and other world powers gives Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, $100 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for compliance with the agreement meant to stop the rogue regime from getting nuclear weapons.
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After Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged Thursday that "some" Iran deal money would go to terrorists, CBS reporter Margaret Brennan asked Earnest at the White House briefing whether he agreed.
"I think that reflects his rather logical conclusion that a nation that supports terrorism may use some of the money that's coming into the country to further support terrorism," Earnest said. "The thing that's important for people to recognize is that critics of this agreement often exaggerate the value of the sanctions relief that Iran will obtain, and they often overlook the rather severe economic priorities that are badly underfunded inside of Iran."
Earnest said the White House had been honest about acknowledging that the nuclear deal would not assuage their concerns about Iran's "bad behavior."
"It is entirely likely, I think it's even expected, that Iran will continue to support terrorism, but because of Iran's intention that we assess to continue to support terrorism, that's what makes it so important that we prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Earnest said.
"To be clear, what you're saying is while, some may conclude, and it would be logical to conclude, that some monies may flow to groups labeled terrorists, you think you can mitigate the threat, but you do say it could flow there," Brennan said.
"Uh, well, we've been candid about that possibility, and that assessment is drawn from Iran's longstanding support for terrorism," Earnest said. "Again, that longstanding support for terrorism is what motivated us to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon."