Iran's detention of 10 U.S. sailors who strayed into Iranian waters earlier this week has had no impact on the U.S. decision on when to lift sanctions on Iran, the White House said Friday.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest would not say exactly when the U.S. would lift those sanctions under the Iran nuclear agreement, but said the decision would be based solely on the International Atomic Energy Association's confirmation that Tehran is in compliance with its agreements in the nuclear deal, and no other factors.
"We want to make sure they don't cut any corners," press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday. "Independent verification has been a key part of this. There has been a lot of distrust" about the way Tehran operates.
Earnest also indicated that the White House is not particularly concerned about Tehran's decision to release embarrassing propaganda video of sailors on their knees with their hands behind their heads. Instead, he said the administration's focus was on the sailors' safe and timely release, and he credited Obama's diplomatic leadership for their prompt return.
"They were released with their boats just 14 hours after they were detained," Earnest said. "That's a credit to the kind of diplomatic engagements that the president has pursued in the face of blistering criticism from our critics."
Asked whether the U.S. has any information that the sailors made a videotaped apology for straying into Iranian waters under duress, Earnest said it was unclear. "That certainly is a possibility, but this is something that the Department of Defense has taken a look at as well," he said, referring further questions to the Pentagon.
Administration officials have suggested this week that implementation day, when the U.S. would lift tens of billions of dollars in sanctions on Iran, could come as early as this weekend.
But Earnest offered no timeline, saying only that the IAEA must issue its report first.