HENRY: I understand you’re saying this could blow up the diplomatic deal, but the thing is you’re going further in this story. And a White House official on the record is saying that these lawmakers want the U.S. to take military action. Do you — can you say from the podium that you — that Democrat Bob Menendez wants to go to war?
CARNEY: Look, I think that Senator Menendez — Chairman Menendez wants what we want, which is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He and many other in the Senate have been excellent partners in helping construct this sanctions regime which was designed to bring Iran to the negotiating table and which, thanks to the efforts of Congress, has achieved that.
And I believe that, you know, when it comes — this isn’t a debate about sanctions. Obviously this administration supports sanctions. We built the biggest, most effective sanctions regime in history. Our view of the current situation is that passing new sanctions legislation now would be counterproductive to the goal that we all share.
And the problem — the obviously problem with that is that if we want, as everyone does, to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon, and we make it harder if not impossible to pursue achieving that goal peacefully, then we — our options become very limited. So it’s not about motive; it’s about, you know, the potential outcome that would be negative for the United States and our allies.
HENRY: The president himself has repeatedly said he has the military option on the table, he should not take that off the table.
CARNEY: And he won’t.
HENRY: So it would be unfair for people to suggest he wants to go to war, right? He’s just saying I want to have that option. So how can you possibly accuse Democrats and Republicans on the Hill of wanting to take military action? That’s what you’re saying.
CARNEY: Again, Ed, I think that –
HENRY: Are you running from that — (inaudible) — is my question.
CARNEY: No, I’m not. What I’m saying is — I mean, I don’t know every one of a hundred senators, what their personal view is on whether or not military force ought to be used in Iran, so I can’t give a blanket statement about how they all feel.
What I do know is, when it comes to Senator Menendez and all of the partners who have assisted this administration over the years in building the sanctions regime, is that we share a common goal, which is to deprive Iran of the opportunity of acquiring a nuclear weapon, and to do so through negotiations. That’s why we built the sanctions regime. And our strong concern is that passage of sanctions at this time would negatively affect and perhaps scuttle the negotiations that are underway, and then make it much harder, if not impossible, to achieve our objective peacefully.