AFP: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday warned Iran that any pursuit of a nuclear weapons program is "futile," but acknowledged Washington is prepared to engage with whatever regime is in power in Tehran.
By Michael Mathes
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday warned Iran that any pursuit of a nuclear weapons program is "futile," but acknowledged Washington is prepared to engage with whatever regime is in power in Tehran.
Clinton, just returned from a major diplomatic push in Asia where she stressed US commitment to face down nuclear threats in North Korea as well as Iran, said Washington is doing everything in its power to ensure that Tehran does not acquire an atomic bomb.
"What we want to do is to send a message to whoever is making these decisions (in Iran), that if you are pursuing nuclear weapons for the purpose of intimidating, of projecting your power, we're not going to let that happen," Clinton said on NBC television's "Meet the Press."
"Your pursuit is futile."
Clinton had been asked whether the United States was considering a nuclear umbrella for its Gulf allies, an idea which she raised last week at an Asian security conference — and which stirred fears in Israel that Washington would accept a nuclear armed Iran.
"We are not talking in specifics… because that would come later, if at all," she said. "My view is, you hope for the best and you plan for the worst."
The former first lady and opponent of Barack Obama for the Democratic Party's nomination for president last year stressed that "it is unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons," adding that "I think it's clear that we're trying to affect the internal calculus of the Iranian leadership."
Iran was plunged into turmoil last month when thousands of Iranians took to the streets contesting presidential elections in which incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner.
The protests shook the pillars of the Islamic republic, and opponents who ran against Ahmadinejad have rejected the legitimacy of his new government and called for a re-run of the election.
Clinton said Sunday that the United States "would hope better for the Iranian people," but stopped short of saying whether or not the government was illegitimate.
"That's for the people of Iran to decide," she added.
"We have negotiated with many governments who we did not believe represented the will of their people," Clinton said, mentioning drawn out US negotiations with China and the Soviet Union.
"We would hope that there is more openness, that peaceful demonstrations are respected, that press freedom is respected. Yet we also know that whoever is in charge in Iran is going to be making decisions that will affect the security of the region and the world.
Clinton stressed the United States did not consider it was betraying Iran's anti-regime protestors and pro-democratic movement by dealing with the leadership in Tehran.
"That's what you do in diplomacy, you don't get to choose the people (in power), that's up to the internal dynamics within a society," she said.
Last week Clinton told Thai television in Bangkok that Obama's administration "will still hold the door open" to talks with Tehran over its nuclear program, a message she reiterated Sunday.
"There's a lot that we can do with Iran if Iran accepts what is the international consensus," she said, namely that Tehran has "a right to pursue a peaceful use of civil nuclear power" but not nuclear weapons.