Daily Press Briefing by Spokesperson Jen Psaki (Excerpts)

December 1, 2014

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

[. . .]

QUESTION: So one week after Vienna, have you set up with your P5+1 partners and with Iran a new date and location for the next round of talks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as the Secretary mentioned and others mentioned in their remarks before we left Vienna and others left Vienna, the plan was for the teams to meet again in December. That hasn’t been set yet, but we’re working, certainly, to set that date and location. And we certainly remain in touch with our P5+1 partners in the meantime.

QUESTION: Is --

QUESTION: Please. One – yeah, one more on Iran.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I don’t know if you like cars, but there is a motor show which --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a car, but go ahead. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: There is a motor show which opened its door yesterday in Tehran, and a lot of car makers – French car makers, Japanese, Korean, and even American car makers – expressed their willingness to come back, to return to the Iranian market. So have you something to say against these business-to-business contacts, or are you willing to tell your partner that Iran is not open yet for business?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that has long been our view, that Iran is not yet open for business. I think that’s – that’s obviously still the case. I don’t have all of the specifics of this particular show or who may or may not be participating, so let me check in on that with our team and we can see if we can get you a more comprehensive comment.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Can I just ask, are there any plans for the Secretary to go up to the Hill and brief on the latest round of talks in Vienna?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he’s been closely engaged with his colleagues on the Hill on the phone over the course of the last week or so, and even while he was in Vienna. In terms of plans to go up to the Hill, not at this point in time, but obviously, he remains closely engaged with members.

QUESTION: He’s been in touch with members of Congress since coming back from Vienna?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check if they talked over Thanksgiving, but he certainly had a range of calls, and I expect that will continue to pick up this week.

QUESTION: And are you aware of any particular phone call that he has had in which the person on the other end of the phone was happy with the result and willing to vote against new sanctions legislation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to speak for members. I’m sure they’ll speak for themselves. You’re familiar --

QUESTION: Well, I’m just curious, has he heard from a single member of Congress who’s prepared to take his – to heed his appeal that he made in Vienna?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going speak to his private conversations, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, okay.

MS. PSAKI: He’s making the case for why this extension is an important step.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. Well, leaving aside his phone calls, are you aware of any member of Congress who is willing to vote against sanctions legislation?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll let them speak for themselves, Matt. We’re continuing our conversations at a range of levels.

QUESTION: Well, I’m not asking you to speak of them. I’m just saying, are you aware of a single one?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not a spokesperson for any members of Congress.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: But presumably you are – presumably your position remains that you do not want to see Congress impose any new sanctions ahead of the dates that you’ve now set.

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely. And in the Secretary’s calls, when relevant, he has been clear that, just as we’ve asked Iran to uphold its commitments under the JPOA, we must do so as well. That means we can’t put in place new nuclear-related sanctions while the JPOA is in effect.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: And the JPOA – sorry, Said – remains in place, even though it had a one-year timeline on it. I just – wanting to know how legally you justify the extension to July – June 30th.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it was mutually agreed – the extension was mutually agreed between the parties. So yes, the initial was a year, but obviously we felt it was necessary and it was useful and productive to extend, as did the P5+1 – our P5+1 partners, as did Iran.

QUESTION: Right. So until June 30th. That’s the new date now?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. But as the Secretary outlined when he spoke last week – and I believe Jeff did as well – our hope is that by March 31st we have an agreement on a comprehensive plan of action that would ensure the world of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. Then our technical experts can finish their work of fleshing out the details and annexes. So there’s kind of a two-step as part of this effort.

QUESTION: Jen, I want to follow up on Nicolas’ question. There is apparently also a similar deal – grain for oil – grain – deal between Russia and Iran. Do you have any comment on that? Would that be considered as breaking the sanctions, the international sanctions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are aware of the talks between Russia and Iran involving various areas of planned future economic cooperation. We’ll continue to monitor developments in these discussions about future activities. We don’t have specific details. If there are deals that are sanctionable, we will act. But we can’t determine sanctionability in the abstract.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Any more on Iran? Let’s finish Iran. Any more on Iran? Okay, go ahead.

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