Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday she was “personally skeptical” that Iran would agree to a comprehensive deal to remove its nuclear weapon capabilities but said the Obama administration faced a promising opportunity that required it to “give diplomacy space to work.”
Clinton told the American Jewish Committee that American negotiators needed to be “tough” and “clear-eyed” as they conduct nuclear talks but said the ongoing talks in Vienna between six world powers and Iran represented an opportunity to reduce Iran’s potential nuclear weapons-making ability. The talks are being conducted ahead of a July 20 target date for a deal.
“To get there we will have to be tough, clear-eyed and ready to walk away and increase the pressure if need be. No deal is better than a bad deal,” Clinton said, adding that any agreement that endangers U.S. or Israeli national security should be rejected.
But Clinton called it a “promising development and we need to test it to see what can be achieved. This is a time to give diplomacy space to work. If it does not, there will be opportunities to put in place additional sanctions in the future.”
As she considers a potential 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton’s speech represented one of her most vigorous defenses of her tenure at the State Department and highlighted her work to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Clinton is preparing for a high-profile tour next month to promote her upcoming book and expects to help Democrats later this year before mid-term elections. Republicans have questioned Clinton’s record as America’s top diplomat and have made clear that they intend to try to turn her foreign policy decisions into political liabilities if she runs for president again.