Ayatollah Dismisses Nuke Deal, White House Official Says They Have 'Sober Frame of Mind'

A senior administration official admitted that the Ayatollah Khamenei's comments about a nuclear deal being doomed and duplicitous should slightly lower expectations going into the next round of talks in Vienna.

The P5+1 is meeting to take the six-month interim agreement and forge it into a long-term agreement, but the Supreme Leader's statements sought to dampen any real or feigned optimism from the White House.



When asked how the White House was interpreting those comments, a senior administration official at a special briefing in Vienna said "I think you have to ask him what his intentions were." This was followed by laughter.

"But I think you know he made the statement he did today – President Obama has said that he believes this is a 50-50 proposition. So I think, probably with all of you, we don’t have to worry about high expectations," the official said.

"And indeed, I think it is right to approach these negotiations with a sober frame of mind. If this were easy to do, it would have been done a very long time ago. It is extraordinary that we were able to take a first step, commitments of which are being kept by everyone. We now have to build on that so that it is not the only step and it is not the last step. But it is very complex; it is very difficult. We are all committed to working as hard as we possibly can, as fast as we can, but this is a very detailed-oriented comprehensive agreement with very difficult decisions that have to be taken by everybody. So I certainly think leadership all over the world is keeping expectations at the appropriate place – cautious, very cautious."

The administration official also said they have no qualms about telling congressional Democrats who want to pass a sanctions bill with a veto-proof majority to worry more about the White House's desires than their midterm elections.

"What I will say is that many people have brought up our midterm elections, and won’t that have pressure on what we do? And I would say that throughout this process, the president, the secretary of State have made – and policymakers in U.S. government – have made decisions they thought served the national security interest of the United States. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have worked so hard to tell the Congress, 'Please do not pass new sanctions legislation now.' The politically easy thing to do would have been to say, 'Okay.' But that wasn’t, in the view of the president and the secretary and all of us, the right thing to do."