Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Remarks on Iran in Interview with Kim Ghattas of BBC (Excerpts)

February 16, 2010

Weapon Program: 

  • Military

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QUESTION: Moving on to Iran, you said this week that Iran is moving towards a military dictatorship. And I was wondering, what are you trying to achieve by stating this publicly?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, it is our observation. We have watched, over the last year, the increasing control by the Revolutionary Guard, not only over the security apparatus, but the political and the economic institutions inside Iran. It's very clear that they are in the lead on this repression, either directly or indirectly through the militia, which they control.

And it is troubling, because they are not accountable to anyone, it appears. The clerical leadership, the political elected leadership seem to be ceding ground to the Revolutionary Guard. And we believe that the sanctions we're working on with the international community should be targeted at the Revolutionary Guard, particularly at their commercial interests, which are expanding dramatically.

We also think it's important to send a message to other countries, and particularly in the region, that there has been a qualitative change inside Iran. When President Obama came into office, many experts believed that his offer of engagement would be reciprocated, that there would be a view on the part of the Iranian leadership that this was in their interest. Unfortunately, that hasn't come to pass. And then the election, which occurred, has created turmoil inside Iran, and we believe has perhaps shifted the balance of power.

Inside Iran, it's important for anyone who can hear this discussion to realize that the United States sees what's going on. I mean, you could be adversarial toward the United States, but still not want to see your country, such a historic country with so much culture and intelligence and contributions to make, heading in that direction.

QUESTION: And presumably, you are also sending a message to countries which perhaps, so far, don't feel the need to be tough on Iran, sending them a signal that perhaps it is time to look more closely at what's going on there.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Exactly, Kim. Exactly. I think some countries are still ignoring the changes we have seen this past year. And the unanimity in the so-called P-5+1 up until now reflects a common view. At the beginning of this year, I'm not sure people thought there would be that kind of unanimity. But there is, because we all see the same trends.

And for countries that are still on the fence, you know, we can either just give in to the trends inside Iran, which I don't think bode well for world peace and non-proliferation, we can ignore them, which has the same effect, we can try to influence them, which is what we are trying to do.

QUESTION: A question on Iran. The Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, yesterday said that sanctions are a long-term solution, but they are worried about the threat that Iran poses now. They want a quick solution. What can you offer?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am very pleased by the level of cooperation that the Saudis are offering. They fully see the threat. They understand how destabilizing it would be if Iran were to become a nuclear power. And they are anxious to get on with it. They want to see action. And I think the action in the Security Council, which they support, would send such a strong message. And if we enforce it, I think it could have both short and long-term effects.

QUESTION: But it takes too long for them.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think everyone who sees this threat as we do, and particularly the neighbors, people who are living within range of the missiles, for example, are very anxious to get on with it.

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