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Senator Clinton won't rule out use of force to stop 'pro-terrorist' Iran

John Byrne
Published: Saturday February 3, 2007
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This article has been corrected.

At a speech Friday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said "no option can be taken off the table" when dealing with Iran, RAW STORY has learned.

Clinton tempered her remarks by saying she's advocated engagement with "our enemies and Israeli's enemies," adding, "I believe we can gain valuable knowledge and leverage from being part of a process again that enables us to get a better idea of how to take on and defeat our adversaries." Her quotes were reported by the Associated Press.

The dinner was held by the nation's largest pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is widely believed to the most powerful lobbying group in Washington and routinely sees major politicians from both sides of the aisle -- also in attendance Friday was former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

AIPAC tends to take a more hawkish stance on foreign policy, and has routinely labeled Iran a serious threat. In a Dec. 6 memo, the group labeled Iran "The Core of Instability in the Middle East."

'No option can be taken off the table'

Clinton told some 1,700 AIPAC supporters that the US must take any step to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons," she said. "In dealing with this threat ... no option can be taken off the table."

"To deny the Holocaust places Iran's leadership in company with the most despicable bigots and historical revisionists," she added. Clinton excoriated the Iranian administration's "pro-terrorist, anti-American, anti-Israeli rhetoric."

"We need to use every tool at our disposal, including diplomatic and economic in addition to the threat and use of military force," she added.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a vehement critic of Israel, and according to various media reports Israel has prepared strike plans to target Iran's nuclear enrichment sites. In December 2006, Iran held an "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust," which drew widespread criticism. Iran insisted that it was not a Holocaust denial conference.

In October 2005, Ahmadinejad said he concurred with Ayatollah Khomeini's remarks on Israel that the "occupying regime" had to be removed, calling it a "disgraceful stain [on] the Islamic world" that must be "wiped off the map," according to a translation published in the New York Times.

Ahmadinejad did not use Israel by name in his speech.

Some Middle East experts disagree with the translation, which was widely used by the Associated Press and other news agencies. Some say the phrase is more accurately translated as "eliminated" or "wiped off" or "wiped away" from "the page of time" or "the pages of history," rather than "wiped off the map."

New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner later responded to critiques of the Times' translation, saying, "all official translations" of the comments, including the foreign ministry and president's office, "refer to wiping Israel away." He agreed, however, that "map" was not the most suitable translation.

Iran continues nuclear development

Iran continues to develop its nuclear program despite protestations from its European neighbors and the United States. Diplomats said this week that the Persian nation would begin installing more than 3,000 cetrifuges at their underground nuclear enrichment site at Natanz.

Analysts disagree over the timeframe in which Iran might develop a nuclear bomb. Most place an estimate somewhere between 3-5 years. Iran has said they intend to use the program for "peaceful" civilian power needs.

According to New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, a classified draft CIA assessment has found no firm evidence of a secret drive by Iran to develop nuclear weapons, as alleged by the White House.

Still, Iran's plans to install as many as 50,000 centrifuges comes in direct defiance of the UN Security Council, which called on Iran last summer to suspend uranium enrichment.

Iran opened the doors of its enrichment plant to 'non-aligned' nations Saturday in an effort to give ambassadors "the opportunity to see for themselves what is going on in the peaceful nuclear activities of Iran," said Iran's envoy to the UN Atomic Watchdog, Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

With Wire Services.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to Israel as the "Zionist state." A more accurate translation of his remarks were, "occupying regime." The updated version of this article also includes a more detailed discussion of the translation. Title also used "run" instead of "rule."