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Josh Earnest Pre-Sells Iran Deal

Kirk attacked the potential deal over the weekend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The ink isn't dry yet on an Iran deal, but the White House already sounds ready to blast its critics as warmongers.  

"I think the tough sell is going to be on the part of Republicans if they try to tank the deal," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, reacting to comments made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., over the weekend.  

"It's going to be a tough sell to say that the United States should back away from an international agreement. It's going to be a tough sell to say that the United States should throw away the best possible avenue for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  

"It's going to be a tough sell to suggest that we should undermine the international sanctions that have been so effectively put in place thus far, and it's going to be a tough sell to say you know what, we should just foreclose the diplomatic option and only consider the military option before us."  

Republicans have already suggested they would lead an effort to overturn the deal, notably Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., who complained that there would not be anytime, anywhere access to Iranian facilities by inspectors.  

"Worse, the agreement is set to blow an irreparable hole in the international sanctions regime, easing a U.N. arms embargo while also giving Iran back as much as $160 billion in frozen assets," Kirk said in a statement over the weekend. "If the Administration cannot say ‘no’ to an Iran deal with bad terms, then Congress must act.”  

The White House has maintained that any deal would have the most intrusive inspections ever imposed on a country's nuclear program and the president has said he wants snapback provisions that would reimpose sanctions if Iran cheats.  

Earnest, however, did not rule out rolling back an arms embargo on Iran. The United Nations targeted Iran with an embargo, including 0n its ballistic missile capabilities, as part of a resolution targeting its nuclear program.  

Earnest acknowledged that the negotiations have included rolling back sanctions tied to the nuclear program but wouldn't go beyond that. As for the timing of a possible deal, that's anybody's guess.  

Earnest said the two sides have continued to make "slow, steady" progress and the White House still hopes for a deal. And there's no sign that any true deadline is imminent. In the meantime, the Joint Plan of Action — which effectively freezes the nuclear program — remains in place.  

   

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