WASHINGTON – Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton chronicled her efforts to bring Iran to the negotiating table on Wednesday, personally taking credit for the sanctions that harshly punished the Islamic Republic for its continued nuclear work.
Addressing the American Jewish Committee in Washington, Clinton attempted to brandish her accomplishments as chief diplomat responsible for handling the world’s hotbed of conflict, just as she considers a run for the presidency.
Clinton began with a chronology of events that brought Iran to the negotiating table in earnest. Those talks under way in Vienna are aimed at ending international concerns over Iran’s expansive nuclear program, dating back more than a decade.
Depicting a bleak “inheritance” that she and US President Barack Obama faced in 2009, Clinton spoke of a once wealthy Iran, emboldened after its nemesis, Saddam Hussein, was toppled by US president George W. Bush.
The Obama administration chose to reach out to the Iranians, believing that such overtures would prove to the world that Iran, not the US, was intransigent, Clinton said. And once Iran rejected those overtures, she personally muscled the international community into a unified sanctions regime.
“I worked for months to round up the votes” at the United Nations, Clinton said, adding that her “personal mission” was to force Iran’s oil customers to diversify their imports. “In the end, we were successful.”
“After years of division, the international community came together and sent a very strong, unified message to Iran,” she added. “That was no easy sell.”
While touting her role in wrestling Iran’s leaders to a point of weakness – the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013 reflected this success, she asserted — Clinton nevertheless expressed caution that a comprehensive deal could be clinched in Vienna that would end the crisis.
“I personally am skeptical that the Iranians will follow through and deliver,” Clinton said. “The progress of Iran’s nuclear program may be halted, but it is not dismantled.”
“If they choose to walk through an open door to a different future, we must be prepared to respond in kind,” she continued, “just as we must be prepared with firm resolve to refuse. The next months will be telling.”