Thursday, April 17, 2008, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: … I think that we should be looking to create an umbrella of deterrence that goes much further than just Israel. Of course I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States, but I would do the same with other countries in the region.
You know, we are at a very dangerous point with Iran. The Bush policy has failed.Iran has not been deterred. They continue to try to not only obtain the fissile material for nuclear weapons but they are intent upon and using their efforts to intimidate the region and to have their way when it comes to the support of terrorism in Lebanon and elsewhere.
And I think that this is an opportunity, with skillful diplomacy, for the United States to go to the region and enlist the region in a security agreement vis-a-vis Iran. It would give us three tools we don’t now have.
Number one, we’ve got to begin diplomatic engagement with Iran, and we want the region and the world to understand how serious we are about it. And I would begin those discussions at a low level. I certainly would not meet with Ahmadinejad, because even again today he made light of 9/11 and said he’s not even sure it happened and that people actually died. He’s not someone who would have an opportunity to meet with me in the White House. But I would have a diplomatic process that would engage him.
And secondly, we’ve got to deter other countries from feeling that they have to acquire nuclear weapons. You can’t go to the Saudis or the Kuwaitis or UAE and others who have a legitimate concern about Iran and say: Well, don’t acquire these weapons to defend yourself unless you’re also willing to say we will provide a deterrent backup and we will let the Iranians know that, yes, an attack on Israel would trigger massive retaliation, but so would an attack on those countries that are willing to go under this security umbrella and forswear their own nuclear ambitions.
And finally we cannot permit Iran to become a nuclear weapons power. And this administration has failed in our efforts to convince the rest of the world that that is a danger, not only to us and not just to Israel but to the region and beyond.
Therefore we have got to have this process that reaches out, beyond even who we would put under the security umbrella, to get the rest of the world on our side to try to impose the kind of sanctions and diplomatic efforts that might prevent this from occurring.
It’s shameful that a United States Senator running for President should be so fast and loose with the facts. It practically sounds like she’s reading from MC Rove’s play book. Let’s find some facts shall we?
A. We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program1; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence that the halt, and Tehranâ€™s announcement of its decision to suspend its declared uranium enrichment program and sign an Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iranâ€™s previously undeclared nuclear work.
â€¢ We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.
â€¢ We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years. (Because of intelligence gaps discussed elsewhere in this Estimate, however, DOE and the NIC assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program.)
â€¢ We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.
â€¢ We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.
â€¢ Tehranâ€™s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.
1 For the purposes of this Estimate, by â€œnuclear weapons programâ€ we mean Iranâ€™s nuclear weapon design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work; we do not mean Iranâ€™s declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment.
If Mr. Ahmadinejad is, in fact, a dangerous idiot, not meeting with him will not make him less so. Is this the kind of administration we need next?