Following the meeting, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the President emphasized the benefits of a negotiated agreement, while stressing that the absence of an agreement will allow Tehran to continue with its program unabated. “The president underscored that in the absence of a first step, Iran will continue to make progress on its nuclear program by increasing its enrichment capacity, continuing to grow its stockpile of enriched uranium, installing advanced centrifuges and making progress on the plutonium track of the Arak reactor,” said Carney. He added, “It is certainly the commander in chief's responsibility, as he leaves all options on the table, including military force, to test whether or not we can resolve this peacefully through diplomatic negotiations, and that's what he's doing.” According to Carney, the proposed P5+1 first-phase agreement would last for six months, during which time the Iranian nuclear program would be frozen, with aspects being curtailed including uranium enrichment, installation of advanced centrifuges and the Arak reactor’s “plutonium track”. Carney added that the President emphasized the need to halt new sanctions, saying they should only be considered if Iran fails to live up to its commitments under a new deal, or if a deal cannot be reached.
Speaking during Tuesday’s press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “If this does not work, we will be leading the charge for more sanctions. But what we're talking about now is giving this particular process an opportunity to work itself through.”
Negotiations will continue tomorrow, November 20, in Geneva.
Members of congress still divided over negotiations
America’s lawmakers continue to be divided over the ongoing talks.
“I think you had some folks in the room who were satisfied. I think you had some folks in the room who were very unsatisfied," said Senator Bob Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while speaking to American news network CNN following the meeting with Obama.
Corker added that no new sanctions would be implemented prior to the upcoming talks, and that it is ultimately the president’s power to ease sanctions.
Later Tuesday, the ranking member and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs issued a letter to Obama voicing their concerns over the deal proposed during the last round of talks.
“We are troubled by press reports indicating that the proposed interim agreement discussed at the recent P5+1 meetings with Iran in Geneva may not do enough to prevent Iran from continuing to make progress on developing a nuclear weapons capability, nor does it contain all the elements which we believe must be part of any interim deal,” read the letter penned by Ed Royce and Eliot Engel.
Whether or not their concerns are addressed in Geneva tomorrow remains to be seen.