Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton on Sunday strongly defended the Iran nuclear deal as an achievement in stopping the regime racing toward nuclear weapon capabilities, as she campaigned throughout Iowa on Labor Day weekend.
During an event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the former Secretary of State said that when she came into office, serving under President Barack Obama, “Iran was on its way to a nuclear weapon” and “there wasn’t a strategy to try to hem them in.” Clinton went on to argue that Iran advanced its capabilities to develop a bomb under former President George W. Bush. “Iranians mastered the nuclear fuel cycle before he became president, they built covert facilities and stocked them with centrifuges before [Obama] became president,” she said. “And we – I was in the Senate – we had done everything we could by passing sanctions through our Congress. But it took the world to actually get their attention. We had to get everybody on board.”
Former Vice President Richard Cheney on Sunday argued the opposite. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Cheney suggested that it was the Obama administration that had allowed Tehran to speed up the enrichment of uranium and the development of centrifuges. He further stressed that the number of centrifuges in Iran went from zero to 5,000 by 2009 – “on Obama’s watch, not on our watch.”
But Clinton’s comments on Sunday sought to repudiate that suggestion by touting the significance of the Iran deal, which is “the best alternative we have to put a lid” on Iran’s nuclear program.
Clinton is expected to deliver a major address on the Iran nuclear deal in a live webcast by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC, on September 9th. Brookings President Strobe Talbott will introduce the Democratic presidential candidate, and Envoy on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and currently serving as Brookings Executive Vice President, Martin Indyk will serve as moderator
In a preview of her speech, Clinton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday that while the agreement is not perfect, “it is better than the alternative.”
In her speech, Clinton said, she will be “outlining in great detail” why she supports the deal, but also “equally important” what she would do as president “to enforce it, to hold Iran accountable and to make clear that no options were off the table.”
“It is by no means perfect, but it’s an important step. I think the American people are going to want a president who supports diplomacy even with those who are our adversaries; to try to reach the kind of understandings that we have; but who will also get up every day and enforce that agreement, strongly and vigilantly,” she asserted. “And I think that’s a far better approach than some of the words you will hear on the same day that I deliver my speech from those, who, apparently, don’t believe in diplomacy; don’t believe in the hard work putting together international coalitions; don’t believe in trying to get the best deal you can, and don’t believe it needs to be enforced the way I would enforce it.”
Iran “can never, ever have a nuclear weapon,” Clinton declared.