Comments by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at U.S. – Islamic World Forum (Excerpts)

February 14, 2010

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Syria

. . .

A second issue that demands our cooperation based on the principles I've outlined is Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In his inaugural address, President Obama endorsed a new era of diplomatic engagement, including with those nations who have at times been hostile to the United States. We have proven our willingness to engage. For example, we are resuming high-level contacts with the Syrian government. And we are preparing to send an Ambassador back to Damascus for the first time since 2005.

We have pursued extensive efforts to reengage with Iran, both through direct communication and through greater participation in multilateral efforts. Our goal has been, that after 30 years of hostile relations with Iran, we need to begin to build a more constructive relationship.

Our position regarding Iran's nuclear program is simple. We believe that all states, including Iran, start with the same rights and the same responsibilities. And according to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nations have the right to nuclear power so long as they accept the responsibility of demonstrating unequivocally that their programs are used solely for peaceful civilian purposes.

But Iran has consistently failed to live up to its responsibility. It has refused to demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. And last year, the world learned of a secret nuclear facility near the city of Qom. The IAEA Board of Governors responded with a resolution criticizing Iran that received wide support.

In October, in our continuing efforts at engagement, the United States, for the first time, joined the so-called P-5+1 in meeting with Iran in Geneva. These were the highest level discussions between the United States and Iran in more than 30 years. We went to Geneva with the hope that Iran would seize the opportunity to begin to resolve our differences, and to pursue greater political and economic integration with the international community. We joined Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Germany to endorse an offer to provide Iran with fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which creates medical isotopes for medical treatment. This offer demonstrated a good-faith commitment to working with Iran toward a future civil nuclear program for peaceful purposes.

Iran agreed in principle, but then refused the IAEA's terms. Now, Iran has announced that it will increase its enrichment activities to produce up to 20 percent enriched uranium, in violation of successive United Nations Security Council resolutions. And its explanation doesn't add up. It could have the very enriched uranium it says it seeks by accepting the international IAEA offer. So this has only deepened the international community's doubts about Iran's nuclear intentions, along with increasing isolation of Iranian government.

Furthermore, since the meeting in Geneva in October, Iranian officials have refused every offer to meet on its nuclear program. So these actions, understandably, have caused us to wonder: What does Iran have to hide? Why is Iran refusing to live up to its international obligations, which would lead to political and economic integration with the international community that would actually benefit the Iranian people?

Iran leaves the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps. Together, we are encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions. We are now working actively with our regional and international partners, in the context of our dual track approach, to prepare and implement new measures to convince Iran to change its course.

And of course, our concerns about the Iranian government's intentions are intensified by its behavior toward its own people. The world has watched the events of the past several months in Iran with alarm. We know of the large-scale detentions and mass trials, political executions, the intimidation of family members of the opposition, and the refusal to extend Iranian citizens the right to peaceful assembly and expression, as we have seen again in just the last few days.

The United States joins other nations in condemning these events. If the Iranian government wants the respect of the international community, it must respect the rights of its people.

. . .