After blowing past the July 7 deadline for an Iran nuclear deal, the White House said talks are ongoing because they continue to be useful.
"These talks are worth continuing, and that's what's driving the decision-making process," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily briefing Tuesday. "We're focused on the usefulness of continuing to talk."
Earnest made the statement one day after asserting that the latest July 7 deadline for the Iran deal was still operational. Differences between the two sides reportedly remain over an arms embargo and provisions to renew sanctions if Iran fails to adhere to the agreement.
Iran has always said the deadlines are less firm than the U.S. and other world partners involved in the negotiations, but diplomats now have missed five of their self-imposed deadlines.
Failure to reach an accord by July 9 would extend the necessary congressional review period from 30 days to 60 days, and subject any deal to much more scrutiny, especially during the slow August congressional recess.
Earnest, however, brushed aside concerns that more congressional scrutiny could lead to additional lawmaker defections when it comes to approving the deal, or lower public opinion of the agreement.
"We welcome the additional scrutiny of the deal if we are able to reach one," Earnest said. "We would welcome that kind of scrutiny and careful consideration of the agreement but that would require us to reach a final agreement, and the Iranians so far have not yet been able to sign on the dotted line."
He said any deal must reflect the general principles and parameters set back in early April when both sides announced a framework in Lausanne, Switzerland.
On Monday, Earnest said negotiators were still trying to meet the July 7 deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran, and were still willing to walk away from the negotiations if both sides can't reach a good deal.
"This is the deadline that we continue to operate against, and that reflects the rather aggressive pace of the negotiations that are underway right now," Earnest said.