Clinton Says Iran Was Only Weeks Away From a Bomb Before Deal

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that the Iran nuclear agreement “put the lid” on that country’s weapons program, which was only “weeks away” from obtaining an atom bomb, The Times of Israel reported on Thursday.

In an interview to be broadcast in Israel on Thursday evening, Clinton brushed aside Republican rival Donald Trump’s recent claim that the Iran deal “is going to destroy Israel — unless I get elected.”

Clinton asserted that, on the contrary, the agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program has made the world safer.

“I believe with all my heart that putting a lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons program has made Israel safer, has made the region safer, prevented a nuclear arms race.”

Adapting Republican President Ronald Reagan’s motto, she maintained that she believes in a tough stance of “distrust and verify.”

Reagan used the expression “Trust, but verify” in arms talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It was suggested to him by his adviser on Russian affairs, Suzanne Massie, who derived it from a Russian proverb, “Doveryai no proveryai” — trust, but verify.

Clinton characterized her opponent’s position on Israel as uninformed and inconsistent, and said that a Trump presidency would be a boon for radical Islam.

She cited an article by Matthew Olson, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, which she said made a compelling case that Islamic State was “rooting for Donald Trump’s victory because Trump made Islam and Muslims part of his campaign.”

Olson, she said, essentially argued that “the jihadists see this as a great gift. They are saying, ‘Please, All-ah, make Trump president of America.”

Regarding the agreement with Iran which has been criticized, by Israel in particular, for allowing Tehran to pursue the nuclear ambitions, Clinton pledged that as president she would hold the Iranians “to every single element of the agreement that they have reached.”

Tehran was well on its way to obtaining a nuclear weapon when Clinton was appointed Secretary of State in the first Obama administration in 2008.

“When Obama came in and I accepted to be secretary of state, we faced the very real potential of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

That was why she devoted a large part of her first two years in office “putting together an international coalition to impose the sanctions that drove them to the negotiating table, which finally led to the agreement,” said Clinton.

“We have to go after any violations on ballistic missiles,” she added. “We’ve got to work much harder to contain the threat that they continue to pose because of their very aggressive support of terrorism — whether it is Hezbollah, Hamas. But we are in a stronger position than we would have been to deal with this other malicious behavior, because of the nuclear agreement.”


Updated Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 3:43 pm more information