Will US Lift Iran Arms Embargo? White House Dodges

Press Secretary Earnest bobs around whether Obama will lift arms embargo on leading terror sponsor, finally admits the issue is 'opaque.'

Ari Yashar ,

White House spokesman Josh Earnest
White House spokesman Josh Earnest

Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, last Monday added an additional demand in negotiations over its nuclear program insisting that the UN embargo on conventional arms against it be lifted - will the US concede to this demand?

That is the question one intrepid journalist tried to get White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest to answer on Monday, with very limited success.

ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl clearly asked Earnest: "is lifting the arms embargo on Iran on the table in the final stages of the negotiations?"

But Earnest began bobbing and weaving like a prize fighter, saying that the deal is to involve relief to Iran on sanctions targeting its nuclear program in exchange for Iranian "demonstrations" that it will not militarize its nuclear program.

Karl was not about to be so handily riposted, and doggedly asked, "is the president willing to go along with the lifting of the arms embargo? Would he go along with that under any circumstances?"

When Earnest said he couldn't "get into the details" of the nuclear talks, Karl appeared shocked and asked, "you can’t say if the president would sign off on lifting the arms embargo with Iran?"

But Earnest continued to earnestly avoid a direct answer on the embargo question, reiterating that the deal is centered around Iran's nuclear program and sanctions on that program.

When pressed he hinted that Iran will not be taken off of America's state sponsor of terrorism list, at which Karl asked how a lifting of the arms embargo could possibly be considered given that it is not directly related to the nuclear program, when a removal from the terrorism list that likewise isn't related to the nuclear program is not being considered.

After Earnest brushed off that conundrum as well, Major Garrett of CBS News got involved, saying, "all of us are trying to translate your conversation with Jonathan (Karl), so let me try this way."

"The administration does not believe that the arms embargo pertains to Iran’s nuclear program, therefore it is not on the table. Correct?"

"I'm not saying that," answered Earnest, in an apparent admission that the US is in fact considering lifting the arms embargo on the leading state sponsor of terror which has heavily supported Hezbollah and Hamas in their wars against Israel.

After saying the American public should only judge the nuclear deal when it has already been announced and all concessions are known, Garrett asked, "so this part (of the deal) is opaque?"

"I would acknowledge that there are a variety of aspects of this that are opaque," Earnest conceded.