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Secretary's Remarks: Interview With Wolf Blitzer of CNN

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

NATO Headquarters

Brussels, Belgium

April 19, 2012

THIS IS AN EXCERPT OF PARAGRAPHS REFERRING TO IRAN. FIND THE FULL TEXT OF THE INTERVIEW HERE


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QUESTION: Let’s talk about Iran. As you know, these talks with the Iranians are continuing. Another meeting is scheduled for May 23rd. The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, says – and I’m quoting now, when he heard about the – there’ll be another round on May 23rd, he said, “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie.” A freebie.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that is not accurate because what came out of the first meeting was a commitment to a second meeting with a work plan between the two meetings. We are really getting down to testing whether or not there is a willingness on the part of the Iranians to reach some kind of negotiated resolution --

QUESTION: Are you encouraged by the first round?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe that the first round was positive because, from our assessment, after having no contact for 15 months, the Iranians came back to the table at a time when sanctions are really continuing to put a lot of pressure on the Iranian Government and are willing to talk about their nuclear program, which is an important, positive step.

Now we have a long way to go, and this has got to be very clearly laid out as to what the international community expects, what is acceptable, of course, to the United States since we are at the table with the P-5+1. But there is a chance – and I don’t want to oversell it – that between now and the second meeting, we will hammer out what the international community, represented by the so-called P-5+1, requires of Iran and what Iran is willing to do.

QUESTION: And if they do take these measures, will you encourage the alliance to slow down on these economic sanctions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t answer that because it’s so hypothetical right now. I believe in very clear action for action. We have to see what the Iranians are willing to do, then we have to make sure they do it, and then we have to reciprocate. That’s what a negotiation is all about. And right now, we are still in the testing stage.

QUESTION: If they don’t do what you want them to do, the Iranians, are you – and you’re the Defense Secretary – ready to use military force to destroy their nuclear capabilities?

SECRETARY PANETTA: As the President has pointed out, and as I’ve pointed out, we are prepared with all options on the table if we have to respond.

QUESTION: And is there a plan in place? Because I know the Pentagon; I used to cover the Pentagon. There are always contingency plans for everything. Do you have a specific contingency plan to do that?

SECRETARY PANETTA: One of the things I found out as Secretary of Defense is we do one hell of a lot of planning on everything.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)

SECRETARY PANETTA: So I can assure you that there are plans to deal with –

QUESTION: And if you have to do it, will it succeed? Are you convinced it would succeed?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don’t think there’s any question that if we have to implement that plan, it will be successful.

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FULL INTERVIEW