Layoffs at an Energy Company, Worst Case Scenarios in Israel Bombing Iran - Today's Q's for O's WH - 2/29/2012

TAPPER: Another energy company that took a significant loan - accepted a significant loan from the Obama administration, Abound Energy, announced it would be laying off some workers. And I was wondering if the White House had any reaction to that and whether the White House feels as if any of these investments were made without sufficient diligence into the business venture?

CARNEY: Well, I would refer you to the Department of Energy for specifics about any particular loan. I would say broadly that it is inherent within these kinds of investments that there is risk, and the Congress recognized that risk, which is why they put aside $10 billion in loan loss reserve - $10 billion in loan loss reserves when they created the program.

But just because there is risk, President Obama believes that we should not just throw up our hands and cede these industries to the Chinese or the Spanish or any other country. These are technologies and industries that will be very important in the 21st century, very important to the potential for the United States to become more energy independent, and we need to aggressively pursue them.

And again, with specific - with regards to any particular loan or company, I would refer you to the Department of Energy. As for - you know, we have said and maintain that the loans that were made were made on a merit-based basis. And we'll continue - you know, that continues to be the case. But for specifics, I would refer you to DOE.

TAPPER: And then, in light of the president's pending speech at AIPAC and the visit from the Prime Minister Netanyahu, I was talking to a national security expert who was telling me that he didn't think that there had been enough of a discussion of what if Israel did launch a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and things went wrong.

And one of the - one of the issues he raised was the idea that Iran obviously borders Afghanistan and has stayed relatively - has stayed pretty much out of Afghanistan in terms of - compared to some of the things that it's done in Iraq, for instance in terms of arming the insurgents in Iraq. It has not done so in Afghanistan.

And the official - the expert, rather, expressed concern that if things went wrong that it would be possible that Iran might start helping to attack or at least arm insurgents in Afghanistan and try to kill American soldiers.

Just in light of publicly discussing, you know, the things that could go wrong in such a strike, is that a concern being discussed here at the White House?

CARNEY: Well, I would say two things about that. First, our approach to this has been to galvanize and mobilize the international community, to make it clear that Iranian behavior is the issue, to pressure and sanction Iran for its failure to live up to its international obligations, and to ratchet up that pressure and increase the sanctions on Iran to the point where we hope Iran will - Iran will change its behavior.

We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue that approach, even as we, you know, refuse and make clear that we do not take any option off the table in our effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

It is certainly the case - and I think we have been clear about this - that military - any military action in that region threatens greater instability in the region; threatens - as you point out, because Iran is - borders both Afghanistan and Iraq - we have civilian personnel in Iraq; we have military personnel as well as civilians in Afghanistan. You know, there are - there are all sorts of potential consequences to more military activity in that region and in Iran - in Iran specifically.

But our approach right now is to continue to pursue the diplomatic path that we've taken, combined with very aggressive sanctions. We continue to ratchet up the pressure on Tehran. And I think it's important to note that, while Tehran does not and has not lived up to its international obligations - that it does not do the things it needs to do to demonstrate that it does not have nuclear weapons ambitions - we do have visibility into their programs. And Iran has not broken out and started to pursue a weapon. So there is time and space to continue to pursue the policy that we have - we have been pursuing since the president took office.

-Jake Tapper

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