GLEN, New Hampshire — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday that she remains hopeful the US can reach a “strong verifiable deal” to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program by next week’s deadline, but warned the pact would not end the threat the country poses to Israel and the world.
The Democratic presidential front-runner said during a Fourth of July campaign organizing event at a house party in Glen in northern New Hampshire that she hopes the US and its allies can clinch a deal.
“I’m hoping it’s a strong, verifiable deal that will put the lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions,” Clinton said. “Even if we are successful, however, Iran’s aggressiveness will not end.”
“They will continue to be the principle state sponsor of terrorism,” Clinton said. “They will continue to destabilize governments in the region and beyond. They will continue to use their proxies like Hezbollah. And they will continue to be an existential threat to Israel.”
As President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton helped set in motion the talks that are nearing completion in Vienna. The proposal has been assailed by Republican presidential candidates who say it does not go far enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, setting up a potential foreign policy clash in the election campaign.
Clinton said Iran ramped up its nuclear capabilities during President George W. Bush’s two terms, building covert facilities and intimidating its neighbors. “The Bush administration’s response through diplomacy was somewhat half-hearted,” Clinton said, adding the “only response” was leveling punitive sanctions on Iran.
Once Obama entered the White House, “we inherited an Iranian nuclear weapons program and we had to figure out what we were going to do about it,” Clinton said. An agreement, however, would not be a cure-all, she said.
“Just because we get the nuclear deal, if we can get it done, doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to be breathing a big sigh of relief,” Clinton said.
Clinton also said that China was “trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America … stealing huge amounts of government information all looking for an advantage.”
Clinton later marched in a parade in Gorham in northern New Hampshire. The northeastern state traditionally holds the first presidential primary. Recent polls show Clinton with a narrower than expected lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race..
When one woman asked her about Obama’s health care overhaul, Clinton said she would embrace it. “I’m going to not only defend it, I’m going to make it even better,” she said.