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CLINTON CONFIRMATION: HRC on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Kerry asks about Iran. Sounds surprisingly hawkish. What are the “big carrots and the big sticks” that the Obama administration will use to get Iran in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty? Why will they work? What else is needed?

Clinton: Iran is a “great concern,” both on nuclear questions — “its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” though the National Intelligence Estimate from 2007 says Iran abandoned that pursuit — and in its regional influence. “Through the use of sanctions, creating better coalitions with countries we believe have a stake in trying to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-capable state. Not taking any option off the table as well,” she says, but Obama will take a “new attitude… that we think will bear fruit.” There’s a strategy review. Notice she’s not saying they’ll negotiate with Iran in their first year in office. Was this just campaign rhetoric?

Kerry asks about a “bottom line” from Obama: is it acceptable for Iran to have a weapon “or is it simply not desirable?” Clinton: “The President-elect has said repeatedly it is unacceptable.” Will pursue diplomacy “with all its multitudinous tools” but “no option is off the table,” a euphemism for military force.

Update: Kerry asks about sending an envoy in the first year. “We’re looking at a range of possibilities,” she says. Doesn’t want to “take our friends and allies by surprise, so we cannot tell you with specificity.” But the “President-elect said as recently as this weekend that we will try new approaches, because the old approaches haven’t worked.” Again, she’s not saying they’ll send an envoy in the first year. She’s not not saying that, though, but declining to say that is significant given Obama’s campaign promises to negotiate with Iran in the first year.

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