The White House on Monday downplayed Iran's claim that Tehran is just "days away" from receiving international sanctions relief.
"The pressure is on the Iranians to deliver at this point," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. He was responding to earlier comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that, "In a few days, we will see the end of the cruel sanctions against Iran."
Under the terms of the landmark treaty Iran reached with six world powers last summer to curtail its nuclear weapons program, the international community will not lift the punishing economic sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table "until they have taken the steps that are described in the agreement to dismantle large portions of their nuclear program," Earnest said. "In addition, we're not just going to take their word for it," he said, adding that no one will lift sanctions until the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Iran has met all agreed upon conditions.
"Then and only then will Iran begin receiving the sanctions relief they seek," Earnest said.
But Earnest said only the IAEA could answer whether Iran would be able to check all the required boxes in a few days.
Earnest seemed on a slightly different page than Secretary of State John Kerry on the issue, who last week sounded more in line with Rouhani.
On Thursday, Kerry said the six world powers that negotiated the deal with Iran — China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia and the U.S. — and Iran "are days away from implementation" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action "if all goes well."
Earnest reiterated comments he made Friday that Iran made significant progress toward implementation when it shipped 25,000 pounds of enriched uranium to Russia.
"But there is more work to be done," Earnest said Friday.