The White House ratcheted up its rhetoric against lawmakers considering new sanctions against Iran Tuesday, warning that scuttling a diplomatic deal with Iran would be a “march to war.”
“The American people do not want a march to war,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
“And it is important to understand that if pursuing a resolution diplomatically is disallowed or ruled out, what options, then, do we and our allies have to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?” he said.
The Obama administration is pressing lawmakers to hold off on passing tougher Iran sanctions after the deal between the six world powers and Iran fell through last week.
Secretary of State John Kerry is briefing the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, which is considering marking up a new Iran sanctions bill. Vice President Biden also briefed the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday.
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group — the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany — are set to resume Nov. 20.
Republicans and some Democrats have expressed skepticism toward the details that emerged from last week’s negotiations, where Iran would stop some of its enrichment for temporary relief of economic sanctions.
Republicans have said they will pursue any legislative avenue possible for new sanctions against Iran, including the Defense authorization bill that is expected to be on the Senate floor before Thanksgiving.
Carney said that the Obama administration is not “suggesting an open-ended delay” for new sanctions but said that Congress should wait until the time is right.
“It is important for Congress to reserve its ability to legislate for the moment when it is most effective in order to give the current P5+1 negotiations the best chance to make real progress in achieving our shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Carney said.
“This is not about being for or against sanctions,” he added.
Carney argued that any deal the Obama administration would accept with Iran would “be one that absolutely meets our standards, that would be verifiable and concrete.”
“Any initial relief as part of the first phase would be reversible and modest,” Carney said. “It would not in any way change the sanctions architecture that's in place, but it would allow for essentially putting some time on the clock because it would halt Iran's program and roll back aspects of its program.”