I strongly condemn today's terrorist attacks, claimed by Jundallah, that targeted Iranian men, women, and children worshipping at a mosque in Chabahar, Iran. On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend condolences to the families and loved ones of all those injured and killed as they marked the eve of the last day of Ashura. This is yet another example of terrorists using cowardly methods to inflict pain and fear on innocent civilians. The perpetrators of this attack must be held to account for their actions.
The United States condemns all forms of terrorism and sectarian-driven violence, wherever it occurs, and we stand with the victims of these abhorrent and reprehensible acts. The global community must remain vigilant in combating terrorist organizations and individuals that threaten lives in every part of the world.
When asked about the firing of Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki yesterday (and whether it was because he snubbed her recently), Secretary Clinton responded, "Whether one person or another is foreign minister is not as important as to what the policy of the Iranian government is in dealing with the international community on [its nuclear program]." She also said, "Our relationship toward Iran is not toward any individual. It is toward the country, the government.… So I don't really have any insight or comment."
Regarding policy, it appears that Iran has no intention of changing its policies, including those pertaining to nuclear talks, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman telling reporters at a news conference, "With the change, we will not see any alteration of Iran's basic policies."
Clinton make her remarks during a news conference yesterday while in Canada for the North American Foreign Ministers Meeting. On Iran, she also said, "The recent meeting in Geneva of the P5+1 was a good start. It was just that. It wasn't more than that, but it was a good start to a return to a serious negotiations between Iran and the international community. And they agreed on a second meeting in January. We remain committed to pursuing every diplomatic avenue available to us and our international partners to persuade Iran to forgo a nuclear weapons program."
The video of the exchange starts at 29:00 in this video:
Secretary Clinton announced yesterday that for the first time ever, the United States is imposing sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses. She said that President Obama signed an executive order on Sept. 28 that sanctions eight Iranian officials who have been involved in "serious and sustained" human rights violations since June 2009's disputed presidential election. Under these officials' watch, Iranians have been "arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed, and killed," Clinton said.
These sanctioned officials include Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Sadeq Mahsouli, who was responsible for forces that attacked students at Tehran University dormitories on June 15, 2009. Also among the eight are officials with responsibility over the infamous Evin Prison and Kahrizak Detention Center. Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations told the New York Times that these officials are "first-class thugs."
The sanctions were imposed under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, which allows the U.S. government to target individual Iranians and make them subject to financial sanctions and U.S. visa denials. Alluding to criticisms that broad-based sanctions can hurt everyday people, Clinton mentioned that those against the eight officials will not adversely affect ordinary Iranian citizens:
We now have at our disposal a new tool that allows us to designate individual Iranians, officials responsible for or complicit in serious human rights violations, and do so in a way that does not in any way impact on the well-being of the Iranian people themselves.
She also said that with these sanctions, the United States is acting as a voice for the voiceless in Iran:
In [announcing sanctions] today, we declare our solidarity with [the] victims and with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights and their dignity and their freedom. By doing so, we convey our strong support for the rule of law, and we speak out for those unable to speak for themselves because they are jailed or frightened or fear retribution against themselves or their families.
Of course, how much impact will sanctions against eight people have on the Iranian government's behavior? Clinton said the sanctions are both practical and symbolic: The sanctions announcement "is a both a practical announcement in that there are financial and travel restrictions that will be imposed, but it is a statement of our values." She also said in her briefing, "We're not naive. We know that thus far, this government has been impervious to our pleas and the pleas of many others. But we think it's essential that we continue to make the case, and today we are adding in very specific terms with specific names to that case."
Also at the briefing was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (seen in the photo above), who explained that the logic of targeting Iranian individuals involves turning them into international pariahs:
We have found that when we single out individuals and expose their conduct, banks, businesses, and governments around the world respond by cutting off their economic and financial dealings with these individuals, these institutions, these businesses.
And this strategy can be very effective. We've seen a growing number of companies and financial institutions in countries around the world cut or substantially curtail their financial ties with Iran. They … have assessed the risks of continuing to do business with these entities, and they have decided that those risks are too great. And we already have indications that Iran's leadership is concerned about the implications, about the impact of this trend.
Clinton, Geithner, and Obama are turning up the heat!
Video of the briefing:
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
"The United States condemns terrorism and all forms of violence against innocent people, wherever it occurs," Secretary Clinton said today in a statement in response to the bombing at a military parade in Mahabad, Iran, which has killed 12 people and wounded about 75 others, mostly women and children, including the girl in the photo.
In her complete statement, she said:
I condemn the bombing targeting Iranians attending a parade in Mahabad today and offer my sympathy to the families and loved ones of those injured and killed. The perpetrators of this attack should be brought to justice and held accountable.
The United States condemns terrorism and all forms of violence against innocent people, wherever it occurs, and stands with the victims of these crimes. This attack underscores the international community's need to work together to combat terrorism that threatens the lives of innocent civilians all around the world.
As sincere as Clinton is, Iranian authorities might not take her seriously. Although the attack is thought to have been perpetrated by Kurdish militants, Iranian officials are -- surprise, surprise -- blaming the United States and Israel.
"As the investigations indicate, the attack has foreign backing," Vahid Jalalzadeh, governor of West Azerbaijan province, where the bombing occurred, told state TV. "Unfortunately, the Americans and their allies are in the region. From the first day of their presence and their slogan to establish security in the region, we can see that the unrest has increased."
And we have this from Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, referring to the U.N. General Assembly in New York and Iran's "Sacred Defense Week," this week's commemoration of the Iran-Iraq War:
The terrorist attack in Mahabad is the reaction of Israeli agents and the supporters of the Zionist regime [of Israel] to the country's defensive prowess in the Sacred Defense Week and the successes of the Islamic Republic of Iran's active diplomacy in the biggest international arena in New York.
Thumbnail image from Press TV (http://www.presstv.ir/detail/143598.html)
Secretary Clinton welcomes the news that Iran has released Sarah Shourd -- one of the three detained American hikers -- but she also urges the country to "extend the same consideration to [other detained U.S. citizens] by resolving their cases without delay and allowing them to immediately return to their families."
Below is Clinton's complete statement:
I welcome Sarah Shourd's release from detention in Iran, and am pleased that she will soon be reunited with her family. I appreciate the efforts of all those who have worked for her release, in particular the Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran, the Omani Government, and the many other world leaders who have raised this case and the cases of other detained or missing American citizens. Sarah's fiancé Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and other U.S. citizens remain detained or missing in Iran. We urge Iranian authorities to extend the same consideration to them by resolving their cases without delay and allowing them to immediately return to their families.
(In the photo above, Sarah Shourd gets a visit from her mother, Nora Shourd, in Tehran on May 20.)
(Update, Sept. 11, 9:45 p.m.: Unfortunately, the release has been postponed.)
One of the three American hikers detained in Iran for more than a year is going to be released at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, to mark the end of Ramadan, a time when clemency is shown and prisoners are freed. It's not yet known which of the three will be released, though it could perhaps be Sarah Shourd (seen above), who has told her mother that she is suffering from medical problems. Plus, during the 1979-1981 Iranian hostage crisis, women were among the first released.
The Associated Press reports that Iran's Culture Ministry sent a text-message to reporters announcing the release. Referring to Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, it said:
Offering congratulations on Eid al-Fitr. The release of one of the detained Americans will be Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Estaghlal hotel.
On July 30, the day before her daughter's wedding, Secretary Clinton encouraged Iran to "do the right thing" and release all three hikers. Let's hope that Iran truly does the right thing and releases all three. Their mothers, as seen below on July 30, will be so relieved.
Photos, top to bottom: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images, TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
An Iranian woman who received a stoning sentence could be executed -- possibly in a week's time after Ramadan ends -- but will Secretary Clinton do anything to save her?
France's foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said Sept. 6 that the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has become his "personal cause" and declared, "I'm ready to do anything to save her. If I must go to Tehran to save her, I'll go to Tehran."
Today, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the stoning sentence "barbaric beyond words." In late July, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered Ashtiani asylum, though he was rebuffed by Iran. The Vatican is considering using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to save the woman's life. People worldwide have held demonstrations, such as the Aug. 5 one in Berlin, as seen above.
Clinton's only public effort on Ashtiani's behalf has basically amounted to an Aug. 10 statement in which she said, "We remain troubled by the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani" "Troubled" is putting it mildly; horrified is more like it.
Of course, the United States does not have official relations with Iran, and Clinton must consider how anything she does on Ashtiani's behalf would affect other Iran-related issues, such as the country's nuclear program and support for Hezbollah.
Still, being a defender of persecuted women is right up Clinton's alley; it's something she's deeply passionate about. So, it's disheartening that one of the world's most powerful women isn't doing or can't do more.
Ashtiani's stoning sentence for adultery was stayed in July after international outcry, and Iran has said she could be hanged instead. Her fate is unclear. Her son told a Paris news conference by phone on Sept. 6 that he fears his mother could be executed after Ramadan ends late this week.
(If you wish to send a message to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about this case, you can do so through Amnesty International's website by clicking here.)
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton has called on the Iranian government to respect its citizens' most fundamental rights and is deeply concerned about Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (the woman once sentenced to death by stoning who might now be hanged instead), Ebrahim Hamidi (an 18-year old who faces imminent death for homsexuality), and Iranians who simply engaged in free expression after last year's presidential election. Her statement is below:
The United States is deeply concerned that Iran continues to deny its citizens their civil rights and intimidate and detain those Iranians who seek to hold their government accountable and stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens.
We remain troubled by the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who garnered international attention for her verdict of death by stoning. While the Iranian Government later stated she would not face execution by stoning, her fate is unclear. We are also troubled by reports that Ebrahim Hamidi, an 18-year old charged with homosexuality, faces imminent execution despite the fact that he is currently without legal representation. Neither case has proceeded with the transparency or due process enshrined in Iran's own constitution, and their lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, felt that he had to flee Iran after he was questioned by authorities and his family members were detained.
We are also concerned about the fate of Iranians who are in danger of imminent execution for exercising their right to free expression after the June 2009 elections, including Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Haj Aghaei, and Javad Lari. The United States urges the Iranian Government to halt these executions in accordance with its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners and imprisoned human rights defenders.
The United States will continue to stand with people around the world who seek to exercise their universal rights and speak out in defense of human liberties.
In the July 24 photo above, a man from the International Committee Against Stoning protests in London's Trafalgar Square demanding the release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who received the original stoning sentence on charges of adultery. If Iran doesn't want her, Brazil and its president sure do.
Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton on Friday, June 25, welcomed passage of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, whose aims include "constraining Iran's nuclear program, changing the calculus of Iran's leaders, and demonstrating that Iran's policies decrease its standing, and further isolate it in the international community."
Clinton -- whom Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in May called an "enemy of Iran" -- stated that in addition to addressing Iran's nuclear activities, the legislation addresses Iran's human rights violations against its own citizens. She said, "We support the Congress' efforts to call attention to these violations, and the United States will continue to hold Iran accountable for its obligations to respect the rights of its own people.?"
(In the photo above, an Iranian woman wrapped in a Palestinian flag cuts up a portrait of Secretary Clinton during an anti-Israel protest in Tehran on May 31, the day of the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship.)
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton will be visiting Pakistan in July -- presumably early enough in the month to return in time to prepare for daughter Chelsea's July 31 wedding. She'll be attending the second session of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, the first of which was held in the United States in March.
Among the topics of discussion: U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan. Another sensitive point in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship right now: Pakistan's recent gas deal with Iran, in which energy-starved Pakistan will import 760 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from Iran through a new pipeline starting in 2014.The United States is not comfortable with the deal because it could run afoul of sanctions against Iran that the U.S. Congress is finalizing and weaken international efforts to pressure Iran on its nuclear program.
Speaking to the media on June 20, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his country would follow U.N. sanctions and said today that Pakistan was "not bound to follow" unilateral U.S. sanctions.
(In the photo above, Clinton stands next to the Pakistani flag in Islamabad on Oct. 28, 2009.)
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton says yesterday's U.N. Security Council resolution sends an "unambiguous signal" to Iran that it will be held responsible for actions it takes to develop nuclear weapons.
In a statement issued yesterday about the resolution, which places even more sanctions on Iran, Clinton said:
I commend the United Nations Security Council for its adoption today of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, aimed at addressing the international community's concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program.…
This resolution sends an unambiguous signal to Iran that the international community holds it accountable for its actions. The measures in this resolution go well beyond the pre-existing sanctions on Iran. That said, we have worked hard to minimize their impact on the Iranian people. They target instead elements within the Iranian government, with the aim of changing the leadership's calculations.…
The United States is committed to a diplomatic solution to the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program and we hope the Council's adoption of this resolution will make clear to Iran's leaders the choice that is before them: how much they have to gain from real engagement with the international community, and how much more they stand to lose from continuing down their current path.
The big question, though, is: Will the sanctions work? The recent FP piece, "Weak Tea," argues that this latest round of sanctions has been watered down to the point that they will be "ineffective."
Update: Clinton's impromptu remarks about the resolution, including her reaction to Brazil's and Turkey's no votes, are here.
(In the photo above, Clinton leads a U.N. Security Council session on Sept. 30, 2009.)
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
The U.N. Security Council just passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in an attempt to halt its efforts to produce nuclear weapons. When asked about the sanctions yesterday, the day before the vote, Clinton said in Ecuador:
…I think it is fair that these are the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced. And the amount of unity that has been engendered by the international community is very significant."
She said yesterday that she would wait until after the vote to comment on how it went and how much support or not the resolution received. The 15-member Security Council ended up passing the resolution 12-2, with Brazil and Turkey voting no and Lebanon abstaining. So, maybe we'll hear further remarks from Clinton soon.
And, maybe we'll see Iran pull its "stunt" soon.
RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
With a possible U.N. Security Council vote on a sanctions resolution against Iran this week, Secretary Clinton declared yesterday:
"I fully expect Iran to pull some stunt in the next couple of days because they know that sanctions are on the way."
According to the Associated Press, her tough words also included:
"I think we will see something coming up in the next 24 to 48 hours where Iran says, 'Wait a minute, wait a minute, look at what we're going to do now.'"
Clinton made the remarks as she departed on trip to Latin America, where she is expected to urge Brazil, an elected Security Council member that doesn't support U.N. sanctions against Iran, to come over to the U.S. side on the issue. As explained in the recent FP piece, "Ahmadinejad's Sugar Daddy," Brazilian ethanol could help Iran outwit the United States on sanctions.
Just a couple of weeks ago at the Brookings Institution, as seen above, Clinton said, "We think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous not less."
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Guess how some Iranian protesters decided to vent their anger against the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship? They cut up and stomped on Hillary Clinton pictures!
Yesterday in front of the U.N. building in Tehran, dozen of protesters threw rocks, burned Israeli flags, chanted "Death to Israel" -- and destroyed Clinton pictures. In the photo above, an Iranian woman stomps on a Clinton portrait. In the photo below, the woman, wrapped in a Palestinian flag and bedecked with photos of Iranian leaders, cuts up a Clinton picture. In the last photo, the torn and forlorn image lies on the ground.
Clinton has said some harsh things about Iran -- and rightfully so -- and I'm sure she knows that this type of response just comes with the job. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already made it clear that Clinton is an "enemy of Iran."
Photos: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
Referring to efforts by Brazil and Turkey to make a deal with Iran on containing its nuclear program, Secretary Clinton said, as reported by Reuters:
We think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous not less.
Clinton made the comment during a speech today that unveiled the Obama administration's new National Security Strategy. In responding to a question asked after the speech, Clinton said U.S. debt and government deficits weaken the United States, as reported by Reuters:
We cannot sustain this level of deficit financing and debt without losing our influence, without being constrained about the tough decisions we have to make."
Hopefully when the full transcript is up, I'll have more excerpts to post.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
It's clear Clinton is an enemy of Iran. Mrs. Clinton is an enemy of Iran; it's clear from the position she takes. She has always threatened Iran.
The Iranian president was in the United States for the U.N. conference on nonproliferation, and yesterday he scolded Clinton for shouting "insults" at Iran in front of the U.N. General Assembly.
Iran is the only country represented here found to be currently in violation of its obligations under the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].… It appears that Iran's president came here today with no intention of improving the NPT. He came to distract attention from his own government's failure to live up to its international obligations, to evade accountability for defying the international community, and to undermine our shared commitment to strengthening the treaty.
But he will not succeed. Time and again, the Iranian government has tried to make its own failures to abide by its duties into an issue between Iran and the United States.… For all the bluster of its words, the Iranian government cannot defend its own actions, and that is why it is facing increasing isolation and pressure from the international community.
Among other things, Iran's president today claimed that Iran had accepted the IAEA's proposal to refuel the Tehran research reactor. Iran has a history of making confusing, contradictory, and inaccurate statements designed to convey the impression that it has adopted a flexible attitude toward the proposal. But we have seen no indication that Iran is willing to accept the IAEA's October proposal or any variant of that proposal that would achieve the confidence-building goals that were intended. If Iran has truly changed its position, it should provide a clear indication of that to the IAEA.
Additionally, we repeat our call, on humanitarian grounds, for Iran to release the three young hikers who have been detained without charge or trial for more than nine months.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Oh, boy. We knew it was coming. After Secretary Clinton warned on Feb. 15 that Iran was becoming a "military dictatorship," the Islamic Republic's leaders have hit back. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Iranian state TV yesterday, "Now, the Americans, once again, have dispatched their agent as a saleswoman to the Persian Gulf to spread lies."
On Feb. 16, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a televised news conference, "We don't take her comments seriously" and said that the United States' military budget is 80 times that of Iran. He also said, "These comments she is making are not wise."
None of these criticisms will phase Clinton (seen above on Feb. 14 in Doha, Qatar). She just calls it as she sees it.
KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton, seen above at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 14, will be returning late today from her weekend trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Yesterday in Qatar, at Carnegie Mellon University's Doha campus, she made a provocative remark concerning Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps:
We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament, is being supplanted, and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship."
And many people would back Clinton's view, such as the author of this Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Iran's Emerging Military Dictatorship."
KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is meeting today with President Obama in the White House's Situation Room to discuss the security weaknesses that led to the near bombing of the U.S.-bound plane from Amsterdam on Christmas Day. Other high-level administration officials in attendance will be: Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Muller, and CIA Director Leon Panetta. The would-be bomber's father had reported him to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, but that wasn't enough to prevent the son from boarding a U.S.-bound plane. As head of the State Department, Clinton will most certainly want to ensure that information given to embassies is promptly and effectively acted upon.
Other Clinton news:
•Clinton barely edged out Sarah Palin (16 percent versus 15 percent) as most-admired woman in a USA Today/Gallup poll.
•A new book has Clinton's name in the subtitle: Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win.
•A list of contributors to the William J. Clinton Foundation has been released as part of an ethics promise by Secretary Clinton. The diverse group of donors includes Norway, Oman, the PGA Tour Inc., Donald Trump, and Bug Works Pest Control Co.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
While speaking today at a news conference in Singapore (where, as seen above, she's attending the APEC summit), Secretary Clinton urged Burma to plan for "free, fair, and credible" elections in 2010. She also pointed out that it's in other countries' interests to have a stable Burma, saying, "Any country that does business in Burma wants to be sure that their investments and their business are safe, and the best way to ensure that is to move toward democracy and the kind of stability that democracy creates."
At a news conference today, Clinton also said yesterday's naval skirmish between North and South Korea will not not affect U.S. plans to send an envoy to North Korea to try to restart nuclear talks. Clinton said, "This does not in any way affect the decision to send Ambassador [Stephen] Bosworth. We think that this is an important step that stands on its own."
A couple of other Clinton tidbits:
•Clinton has been urging Iran to accept a U.N. proposal that lets the country ship low-enriched uranium abroad (to Russia and France) to be further enriched for a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes. She also stated on The Charlie Rose Show that, "It is not in Iran's interest to have a nuclear arms race in the Gulf, where they would be less secure than they are today. It is not in Iran's interest, to the Iranian people's interest, to be subjected to very onerous sanctions."
•Clinton was a star guest at Starbucks today, though she didn't order anything to drink. She sat for about 30 minutes at a table outside the Starbucks in Singapore's Suntec convention center. She was joined by U.S. Congressman Sander Levin (D-Mich.) while four diplomatic security agents monitored from a distance. Three of the four ordered lattes and cappuccinos. The manager said, "They came by very quietly. … Suddenly, this branch has become historic, an icon. I feel lucky."
Photo: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton discussed Iran with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow today. As one senior U.S. official put it, Clinton wanted to know "what specific forms of pressure Russia would be prepared" to join the United States in if Iran didn't keep its promises about not developing nuclear weapons.
Lavrov proved tough, though, and didn't pledge tougher sanctions against Iran, stating at a news conference afterward that sanctions would be counterproductive at this point. "All forces should be aimed at supporting talks," he said.
Clinton doesn't support tougher sanctions at this time either, saying at the news conference, "But we are not at that point yet. That is not a conclusion we have reached. And we want to be very clear that it is our preference that Iran works with the international community … to fulfill its obligation on inspections."
Clinton said that overall her discussion with Lavrov was "very comprehensive and productive." "I feel very good about the so-called reset," she said.
Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
Last night, I was able to watch in person their interview at George Washington University and, as expected, they gave intelligent responses to important questions on Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. At the end, a young man -- presumably a GWU student -- screamed, "I love you, Hillary Clinton!" (You probably won't see that part on CNN.)
Clinton once again reiterated that she, Gates, and President Obama have a harmonious working relationship, saying:
Henry Kissinger … said that it was the first time that he found that the, you know, State Department, the White House, and the Defense Department mostly through Bob [Gates] and me and -- and General [James] Jones -- were all saying the same thing.
"Now that doesn't mean we don't have differences of opinion or see issues from slightly different perspectives, but we have an enormous amount of respect for each other, we listen to each other, and we work through, give our best advice to the president and then support the president's decision."
Referring to the recent talks in Geneva between Iran, the United States, and five other countries over Iran's nuclear program, Sesno asked, "Do you think the Iranians actually want to resolve this?"
Clinton candidly replied, "We don't know yet. We don't know."
When Sesno asked about criticism that the talks were just another way for the Iranians to buy time, Clinton responded:
Does it buy time? It buys time. It buys time for us to consider carefully their response, the sincerity of their actions, and, you know, we're moving simultaneously on the dual track. I mean, we always said we had a track of engagement, and we have begun that with this process, but we also said we would be working with like-minded nations and convincing others to stand ready with tougher sanctions were we not successful."
Meanwhile, Gates said on Iran:
The only long-term solution to this problem, at the end of the day, is the Iranians themselves deciding having nuclear weapons is not in their interest. And if we can't convince them of that, then an array of other options are open."
Also a giant, approving applause burst out when Gates said:
The American toolbox should contain something other than hammers."
To learn about the other tools that Gates and Clinton think should be in the toolbox, check out CNN today.
Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton was on TV yesterday! In a Face the Nation interview that was pre-taped Friday, Clinton talked about the recent news of Iran's secret nuclear facility and the upcoming Oct. 1 meeting between representatives of Iran and the P5+1 countries -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States.
Clinton said of Iran, its nuclear facility, and the Oct. 1 meeting:
We don't believe that they can present convincing evidence that it's only for peaceful purposes, but we are going to put them to the test on October 1st."
When asked, "What can Iran say in this meeting to say we're really -- all all we're trying to do is make electricity?", Clinton bluntly replied:
Well, they can't say anything because they've said that for years, but they can open up their entire system to the kind of extensive investigation that the facts call for."
When interviewer Harry Smith asked Clinton about the "crippling sanctions" that Clinton said should be put in place if diplomacy with Iran fails, she replied:
Well, Harry, we're exploring how you broaden and deepen sanctions. Now sanctions are already in place as you know, but like many sanction regimes they're leaky. But in the last eight months since we've been dealing with North Korea on a similar set of issues we have forged an international consensus around very tough sanctions. And that's given us some additional information about how to proceed on the Iranian front."
When the interview switched to Pakistan, Clinton had complimentary words:
HARRY SMITH: Is Pakistan doing enough to clean up its own house?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, look at, again, what has happened in the last nine months. Pakistan has increased its commitment in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
HARRY SMITH (overlapping): They were successful in Swat valley.
HILLARY CLINTON: Absolutely successful.
Clinton did add, though, that the United States is working for even more action from Pakistan.
It's not as strong as it was, because America's changed demographically, but it's as virulent as it was."
And when asked whether Hillary will ever run for president again, Bill replied:
That's up to her. I don't -- you know, we're not getting any younger. But I'm proud of what she's doing now. I think she's doing a good job and I'm honored that -- I think it's pretty thrilling that she and the president have established the relationship they have. And it's a good argument for reconciliation and remembering the big things for all the rest of us."
Secretary Clinton, seen above with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Sept. 16, will be giving a speech Friday morning at the Brookings Institution. I've RSVPed to attend, so I'll report back what I can. The speech is supposed to outline the United States' goals for next week's U.N. General Assembly session. In today's press briefing, Clinton's spokesman said she would discuss nonproliferation, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, food security, and violence against women and girls.
Other Clinton news:
•Clinton says the United States will discuss nukes during talks with Iran on Oct. 1. Iran is saying that won't happen.
•Matt Latimer, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, says that Bush thought Clinton would end up as the Democratic presidential nominee. In GQ magazine, Latimer claims that Bush said the following about Clinton:
"Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk," he once said (except he didn't say "keister").
•Clinton is concerned about Venezuela's arms purchases.
•Is Clinton scheduling a visit to Pakistan for this fall?
•Clinton will lead a U.S. delegation at a conference on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the first time the United States has attended the biennial conference since 1999.
Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
As you might have noticed today, one of the four square thumbnail photos on the FP home page has a photo of Secretary Clinton and the words: "Did Clinton Make a Gaffe Nobody Noticed?"
You have a right to pursue the peaceful use of civil nuclear power. You do not have a right to obtain a nuclear weapon. You do not have the right to have the full enrichment and reprocessing cycle under your control."
Apparently, whether Iran has the right to enrich is up for debate. According to Rozen's piece, many nonproliferation experts think Iran does have the right. Others, however, say Iran has lost that right because it violated conditions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), namely by hiding many of its nuclear activities for 18 years.
Did Clinton misspeak and thereby make a gaffe? Absolutely not. She was simply stating the United States' position -- held under both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations -- that Iran has forfeited its right to enrich because it didn't meet the terms of the NPT. An administration official told The Cable via e-mail: "She stated existing USG [U.S. government] policy, verbatim. So your folks are just plain wrong."
Photo: Thumbnail photo from Meet the Press
I'm "speed-blogging" once again with a quick roundup of Hillary news:
•Two days after Secretary Clinton compared North Korea's leaders to "unruly teenagers," the country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping." (Really? North Korean schoolgirls wear pantsuits?)
•Israel's intelligence agencies minister has criticized Clinton for saying that the United States is considering extending a "defense umbrella" over the Persian Gulf region to deter Iran.
•ASEAN has rejected Clinton's suggestion that it should kick Burma out of the regional organization if it doesn't free Aung San Suu Kyi.
•When asked about her presidential ambitions in a TV interview, Clinton said, "I doubt very much that anything like that will ever be part of my life."
Photo: ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images
In an interview with private TV network Globovision that was broadcast Tuesday in Venezuela, Secretary Clinton got tough on Iran, calling for "even stricter" sanctions and saying its "pursuit of nuclear weapons" would "be very destabilizing in the Middle East and beyond."
Some sound bites:
We would ask the world to join us in imposing even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behavior of the regime.
We have seen in the last weeks that Iran has not respected its own democracy.
It has taken actions against his own citizens for peacefully protesting. ["His" referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.]
I think it is not a very smart position to ally with a regime that is being rejected by so many of their own people.
Last month, most of you voted that Clinton should be speaking out more about the Iranian election and its aftermath. It looks like Clinton is doing just that.
As for why Clinton did an interview with a Venezuelan TV network? She's trying to ease the tense relationship between the United States and Venezuela. She reached out (literally) to President Hugo Chávez in April, and the United States recently returned its ambassador to Venezuela. Clinton told Globovision, "We are trying to lower the temperature. … We want to make it clear that there are ways for us to have a conversation with people we don't agree with on many issues."
Photo: ARASH KHAMOOSHI/AFP/Getty Images
If Secretary Clinton had been president, the United States would have been talking tough about Iran at least two days earlier.
Clinton -- known for laying the smack down verbally -- spent two whole days urging President Obama to talk tough on Iran before he finally did, reports the Washington Times. And then when he did condemn the violence, he did so without telling her first, making it look like the State Department was "out of sync" with the White House.
According to the article, Clinton originally agreed that the U.S. response should be somewhat restrained to avoid creating the impression that the United States was meddling in Iran's internal affairs -- and because the U.S. government would most likely end up having to deal with Ahmadinejad later on regarding nuclear weapons.
But after 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan was shot on a Tehran street on June 20, Clinton decided it was time for tough talk (a position you all supported in last week's poll). She spent two days urging Obama to speak out, but he resisted. Then on June 23, without informing her first, he announced, "I strongly condemn these unjust actions."
Of course Obama is the president and doesn't need Clinton's permission to speak, but as the Washington Times article states, his tough words made the State Department look "out of sync" with the White House. Until an hour before Obama's news conference, the State Department was still speaking in restrained terms (saying it was "deeply concerned," etc.)
Maybe Obama will listen to Clinton's foreign-policy advice more carefully next time -- or at least give her a heads-up about any unexpected moves.
Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
Thanks to all of you who voted about whether Secretary Clinton should be speaking out more about the Iranian election and its aftermath. To date, 54 percent of you said Clinton should be speaking out more, 35 percent said she shouldn't, and 10 percent were undecided. (Rounding makes the percentages not sum to 100, and no, this poll wasn't scientific.)
Well, it turns out that Clinton did "speak out" in a unique way on Wednesday when she ordered all U.S. embassies and consular missions to rescind July 4 Independence Day party invitations sent to Iranian diplomats. When it comes to Iran, Clinton is canceling the "hot dog" diplomacy. In a cable sent to U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide, Clinton said:
Unfortunately, circumstances have changed, and participation by Iranian diplomats would not be appropriate in light of the unjust actions that the President and I have condemned. For invitations which have been extended, posts should make clear that Iranian participation is no longer appropriate in the current circumstances.
No Iranian diplomats will be crying about having their hot dogs snatched away from them, though; none had RSVPed that they were coming.
By the way, I hope that none of those hot dogs that embassies planned to offer contained pork.
On Saturday, Secretary Clinton's husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said:
What's going on in Iran, really? … They have some ethnic differences there and some religious differences, but basically, this is about a government trying to deny the modern world.
"And the idea is they just don't think they can keep control, if everybody gets to say what they really believe, and go where they really want, and be who they want to be. … And they're right."
Clinton was speaking in Ohio at an awards luncheon honoring boxer Muhammad Ali, baseball player Hank Aaron, and comedian Bill Cosby for their contributions to civil rights.
Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.