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Watch: Hillary Clinton says U.S. will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon

“Here’s my message to Iran’s leaders,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a Brookings event today, “the United States will never allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon.” Secretary Clinton delivered her remarks on the Iran nuclear deal at Brookings in a discussion moderated by Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk. The evening before, in the second Brookings Debate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and three Brookings senior fellows (Suzanne Maloney, Bruce Riedel, and Leon Wieseltier; read Maloney’s post-debate commentary here) engaged in a lively debate on whether Congress should vote to reject the Iran nuclear deal. Highlights of Sec. Clinton’s remarks appear below.

“The United States will never allow [Iran] to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

“As president,” said Sec. Clinton, “I will take whatever actions are necessary, to protect the United States and our allies. I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.”


“There is absolutely no reason to trust Iran.”

“Either we move forward on the path of diplomacy,” Sec. Clinton said, “and seize this chance to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon or we turn down a more dangerous path leading to a far less certain and riskier future.”


“Diplomacy is not the pursuit of perfection; it’s the balancing of risk.”

Sec. Clinton added that, “on balance the far riskier course right now would be to walk away. Great powers cannot just junk agreements and expect the rest of the world to go along with us. We need to be reasonable and consistent and we need to keep our word.”


“This is not the start of some larger diplomatic opening [with Iran].”

“[W]e will embed [the deal] in broader strategy to confront Iran’s bad behavior in region … and we will begin from day one to set the conditions so Iran knows it will never be able to get a nuclear weapon, not during the term of the agreement, not after, not ever.”


“I believe this deal and a joint strategy for enforcing it makes Israel safer.”

“I would not support this agreement for one second,” said Sec. Clinton, “if I thought it put Israel in greater danger. I believe in my core that Israel and America must stand side by side. And I will always stand by Israel’s right to defend itself, as I always have.”


Get all clips from this event on our YouTube page.

Get full event video and audio here.

Read why Senior Fellow Bill Galston called her understanding of diplomacy and global politics “internationalist realism.”

Access our full archive of expert research and commentary on the Iran nuclear deal.

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