A future Iran nuclear accord could automatically reinstate international sanctions if Tehran violates its provisions, says a senior White House official.
"We will not construct a deal or accept a deal in which we cannot verify exactly what [the Iranians] are doing," Reuters quoted U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice as saying on the CBS news program "60 Minutes."
Washington and its allies hope a six-month nuclear agreement reached last month will lay the groundwork to negotiate more enduring restrictions on Iran's arms-relevant nuclear activities. Fears of Iranian backpedaling, though, have contributed to a congressional push for new sanctions that the White House sees as a threat to diplomacy.
Rice said that if international authorities catch the Iranians violating a future deal, "we will ensure that the pressure is reimposed on them."
Washington and its partners still have not developed language that would automatically renew sanctions under such conditions, "but this is something that's quite doable," she said in an interview aired on Sunday.
Rice said it remains uncertain if existing economic pressure is sufficient for Iran to accept a "verifiable" means of ensuring that it could never build a nuclear weapon so quickly that it couldn't be stopped.
Her remarks echoed comments made by President Obama during a Friday press briefing.
"There is no need for new sanctions legislation -- not yet," Agence France-Presse quoted Obama as saying. "If Iran comes back and says, we can't give you assurances that we're not going to weaponize … it's not going to be hard for us to turn the dials back [and] strengthen sanctions even further."
On Sunday, Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany paused their talks for the Christmas holiday, with a European Union spokesperson saying discussions would likely resume before the New Year, according to a separate Reuters report. The international envoys are engaging on how to implement last month's deal. The interim accord grants Iran limited relief from punitive economic measures, but Tehran wants the "P-5+1" nations to offer additional sanctions curbs under a future agreement.
The Persian Gulf power insists that its atomic activities are peaceful, but that assertion faces strong international skepticism.