White House says Congress should wait on Iran sanctions to increase effectiveness

Congress should wait on the potential for passing new sanctions against Iran until such time as they might be more effective, the White House said on Tuesday.

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, made the remarks on Tuesday during a press briefing at the White House after President Barack Obama met with lawmakers to discuss Iran. Carney said the president expressed the administration's position that new sanctions should not be enacted during the current negotiations with Iran.

When asked what would occur if Iran is not prepared to accept a deal within the next few days, Carney said he would not get into hypotheticals but said it was important for Congress to only increase sanctions when they can be effective.

"I think that what we can say is that it is important when it comes to congressional action for Congress to hold in abeyance its potential for passing new sanctions for the time when it might be most effective," Carney said. "Congress has been a very strong partner with the administration in taking that kind of action and deserves credit in the effort to construct the sanctions regime, which, in turn, has led us to this situation where there may be a potential for resolving this diplomatically."

Carney said a first phase deal with Iran would involve stopping Iran's progress from obtaining nuclear weapon capacity and some rolling back of the country's nuclear facilities.

"The fact is the first phase does envision rolling back as well as halting progress, halting progress and rolling back key aspects," Carney said. "And we've talked about some of those aspects, including its enrichment capacity, its stockpile of enriched uranium, its ability to install advanced centrifuges, and the plutonium track at the Arak reactor. So these are areas that are very concrete and significant. So when we talk about halting progress and rolling back, this would, if it comes to pass, be a very serious substantive agreement."