Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Clinton breaks with Kerry on Iran

Earlier this summer Senator John Kerry (D-MA) hinted at a possible change in U.S. policy when the Massachusetts Democrat -- chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a lawmaker more likely to echo administration talking points than openly challenge them -- told the Financial Times that Iran has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful energy purposes, calling the Bush administration’s stance against such enrichment “ridiculous”.

While many reasonably believed Kerry’s position signaled a new stance from the Obama administration, with the FT having earlier reported that such a change in policy was indeed under consideration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put the notion to rest in an interview over the weekend on Meet The Press.

“My view is you hope for the best, you plan for the worst,” Clinton told host David Gregory, continuing:
“Our hope is -- that's why we're engaged in the president's policy of engagement toward Iran -- is that Iran will understand why it is in their interest to go along with the consensus of the international community, which very clearly says you have rights and responsibilities. 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.
David Gregory might have noted that international inspectors and the U.S. intelligence community do not believe Iran has an active nuclear weapons program, but he didn’t.

The sanctimony about the “international consensus” from an administration that continues to assert the right to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge, meanwhile, is a bit rich, if to be expected. Perhaps the most newsworthy aspect of the interview, however, was Clinton’s declaration that Iran has no right to have the “full enrichment” of uranium under its control -- a position Kerry vehemently denounced in the interview with the FT as just more “bombastic diplomacy” and “wasted energy,” adding that Iran has “a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose.” Though Kerry was referring to the Bush administration at the time, his remarks drive home the fact that the Obama administration is electing to continue some of the most-criticized policies of his predecessor, with Clinton outdoing even Condoleeza Rice in terms of her "altogether steelier and more terrifyingly hawkish persona."

Worth noting is that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the U.S. government is actively undermining by providing nuclear fuel to non-signatory and known proliferator India, states that parties to the agreement (like Iran) have an “inalienable right . . . to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination”. With that in mind, Clinton's statement that Iran has no right to enrich uranium indicates the Obama administration believes it can reinterpret an international treaty to its liking, the actual text of the agreement be damned.

David Gregory might have noted that rather salient fact, but he didn't.

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