White House: No nuclear concessions to secure Iran’s help against ISIS

The White House said Monday that it will not trade concessions in its nuclear talks with Iran for Tehran’s help combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“These are two separate matters that will be resolved separately,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

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On Sunday, an Iranian official told Reuters that the country would be willing to help the U.S. campaign against ISIS, but only if it was able to get additional flexibility for its nuclear program.

"You give something, you take something,” the Iranian official was quoted as saying.

But Earnest said U.S. diplomats had “made clear, both publicly and privately that the conversations in the context of the [nuclear] talks are entirely separate from conversations of the international community, including the United States may have with the Iranians about [ISIS].”

“I'm confident that our views on this topic have been conveyed to the Iranians,” he added.

The White House has come under pressure from Capitol Hill not to offer any concessions to Iran as part of the ongoing negotiations.

Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday in New York, as leaders try to reach a deal before Nov. 24 — the extended deadline for the talks.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and 30 other Republican senators sent the State Department a letter urging the administration to stand tough.

“Given that a nuclear Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to the security of the United States, Israel, and other allies, we are gravely concerned about the possibility of any new agreement that, in return for further relief of U.S.-led international sanctions, would allow Iran to produce explosive nuclear material,” the letter read.

Earnest said Iran had a reason to fight ISIS, even without favors from the U.S.

“It is not in the interest of the Iranian regime for this extremist organization to be wreaking havoc on its doorstep,” he said.

 

This post was updated at 5:07 p.m. to correct the number of GOP senators who signed the letter sent to the State Department.