Clinton Says Strike to Follow If Iran Attacks Israel
Indira A.R. Lakshmanan – Bloomberg.com June 7, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a nuclear attack by Iran on Israel would be followed by retaliation against the Islamic Republic.
“I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that were Israel to suffer a nuclear attack by Iran, there would be retaliation,” she said in a taped interview airing today on ABC’s “This Week” program.
Clinton was asked whether her statement as a presidential candidate that Iran would “incur massive retaliation” for attacking Israel is now official U.S. policy. “I think it is U.S. policy to the extent that we have alliances and understandings with a number of nations,” Clinton said. “I think there would be retaliation.”
Clinton said the U.S. needs to make clear to Iran that pursuing nuclear weapons will undermine peace and security for Iran and the entire region. With Arab states and Israel anxious about Iran’s intentions, there’s danger of “a Middle East arms race which leads to nuclear weapons being in the possession of other countries,” she said.
Asked whether she was skeptical that President Barack Obama’s policy of engagement can succeed in forestalling Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Clinton replied, “Well, I am someone who is going to wait and see.”
While dialogue would give both sides better information about one another, the U.S. has “to be willing to sit and listen and evaluate without giving up what we view as a primary objective of the engagement, which is to do everything we can to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.”
Iran, which has been under investigation by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency since 2003, has enough low-enriched uranium to produce the minimum amount needed for a bomb if the material were further enriched to weapons grade. The government in Tehran denies that it wants atomic weapons, saying the enriched uranium is to fuel a nuclear reactor.
On the issue of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, Clinton refuted recent statements by former and current Israeli government officials that the Bush administration had verbally agreed for Israel to continue building structures within existing Jewish settlement areas.
“That was never made a part of the official record of the negotiations as it was passed on to our administration,” Clinton said. “In fact, there is also a record that President Bush contradicted even that oral agreement” to which Israeli officials have referred.
Obama and Clinton have repeatedly said Israel must cease any further settlement construction in order to abide by their commitments under the “road map” for Middle East peace that Israel and the Palestinians entered into under the Bush administration.
Clinton also said she was worried about “an arms race in Northeast Asia” in the aftermath of North Korea’s multiple missile tests, purported nuclear tests and threatening rhetoric against South Korea, which the U.S. is treaty-bound to defend against attack. The Korean peninsula remains technically at war, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Clinton said progress is being made in the UN Security Council toward imposing additional financial sanctions, an arms embargo and other measures “against North Korea with the full support of China and Russia.”
“We are working very hard to create a mechanism where we can interdict North Korean shipments,” to stop the Stalinist regime from proliferating weapons, as it has in the past, she said. If they try to ship nuclear material, “we will do everything we can to both interdict it and prevent it and shut off their flow of money.”
Asked if the U.S. would put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, Clinton said, “We’re going to look at it. There’s a process for it. Obviously we’d want to see recent evidence of their support for international terrorism.”
North Korea was removed from the list last fall after the Bush administration certified that they were not promoting terrorism. The move was intended in part as a confidence- building measure to get the government in Pyongyang to return to stalled talks to eliminate their nuclear weapons program.
To contact the reporter on this story: Indira Lakshmanan in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
Original source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aqCHpWT8Sqm8
Last updated 11/06/2009