Hillary Clinton Dodges Iran Question at Commander-in-Chief Forum

Hillary Clinton commander-in-chief forum (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

NBC’s Matt Lauer asked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Wednesday at the “Commander-in-Chief” forum in New York directly whether she would use military force or renewed negotiations if Iran cheated on the nuclear deal.

The former Secretary of State dodged the question, claiming that the she would “enforce it to the letter,” asserting that Iran was not cheating, and claiming that she was focused on Iran’s ballistic missile tests and its support for terrorism worldwide.

The reality is that Iran is already cheating on the nuclear deal, and the Obama administration is allowing it to do so. Last week reports emerged that the U.S. and other negotiating partners had allowed Iran “secret” exemptions from parts of the deal that it had not complied with. Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile tests also arguably violate the version of the deal that was passed by the UN Security Council, which “called upon” Iran to cease those tests for eight years. Clinton has said nothing about that.

Furthermore, the $1.7 billion in cold, hard cash that the Obama administration paid to Iran as part of a side deal to settle past claims over an arms agreement dating back to the era of the shah — and which was used as ransom for four Americans who were released by Iran in January — will likely be used to support terrorism throughout the region. The cash was delivered in aircraft connected to the terror-linked Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and was formally allocated to military uses.

If she were truly concerned about Iran’s involvement in terrorism, Clinton could have used the commander-in-chief forum to denounce those cash ransom payments, which Congress is already attempting to ban in future, but she said nothing about it.

One point missed by both Lauer and Clinton is that Iran could develop nuclear weapons by complying with the deal. It slows, but does not prevent, nuclear enrichment. Even President Obama admitted Iran could eventually emerge as a nuclear power.

Here, via Time, is the transcript of the entire exchange on Iran between Lauer and Clinton.

LAUER: I’m going to jump in. Thank you very much for your question. Let me ask you about the Iran nuclear deal. It was signed under Secretary Kerry; it was begun under you. You started those talks.

CLINTON: Right, I did.

LAUER: You have said you expect the Iranians to cheat, you think they’ll buy time, and perhaps stay along their course to building a nuclear weapon. If they cheat, Secretary Clinton, will you have any course of action other than a military course of action? Would you enter into negotiations with again (ph)? Would you go back to economic sanctions knowing they cheated and are then closer to a nuclear weapon?

CLINTON: Matt, look, let me put this in context, because this is one of the most important strategic questions we face. When I became secretary of state, the Iranians were on a fast track to acquiring the material necessary to get a nuclear weapon. That had happened the prior eight years. They mastered the nuclear fuel cycle, they built covert facilities, they stocked them with centrifuges, and they were moving forward.

What was our decision? Our decision was to try to put together an international coalition that included Russia and China to exert the kind of pressure through sanctions that the United States alone could not do.

LAUER: Right, but you’ve said that you think they’re going to cheat…

CLINTON: Now, wait, let me — look, this is an important issue. I know we’re on TV and we don’t have a lot of time.

LAUER: I want to get to a lot of questions.

CLINTON: I will talk quickly. But I want people to understand this. So, yes, I put together the coalition. We imposed the sanctions. We got them to the negotiating table. And after I left, we got the agreement. That agreement put a lid on their nuclear weapons program and imposed intrusive inspections. I have said we are going to enforce it to the letter.

LAUER: Do you think they’re playing us?

CLINTON: On the nuclear issue, no. I think we have enough insight into what they’re doing to be able to say we have to distrust but verify. What I am focused on is all the other malicious activities of the Iranians — ballistic missiles, support for terrorists, being involved in Syria, Yemen, and other places, supporting Hezbollah, Hamas.

But here’s the difference, Matt. I would rather as president be dealing with Iran on all of those issues without having to worry as much about their racing for a nuclear weapon. So we have made the world safer; we just have to make sure it’s enforced.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.