WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said that as president she would strike Iran should it appear to be closing in on a nuclear weapon. “I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Clinton said in a foreign policy speech delivered last week at the Brookings Institution. That’s a step beyond the language of “keeping all options on the table” favored by the Obama administration and by the George W. Bush administration before it. Clinton also reiterated her forceful endorsement of the nuclear agreement, which trades sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions on Iran, saying it blocks Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon. “Is it a strong agreement? Yes it is, and we absolutely should not turn it down,” she said. “It blocks every pathway for Iran to get a bomb.”
Clinton also that she would endeavor as president to keep any arguments with the Israeli prime minister out of public view because such disputes help delegitimize Israel. “I would invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House during my first month in office to talk about all these issues and to set us on a course of close, frequent consultation,” Clinton said. Her remarks may be seen as veiled criticisms of Obama, under whom Clinton served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and who has described some forms of open disagreement with Israel as productive. “There is a lot of room for tough love, particularly in private and behind closed doors,” Clinton said. But open criticism — “I don’t think it’s a particularly productive course for the U.S. to take. It opens up the door for everyone else to delegitimize Israel and to pile on.”
Clinton also outlined a range of areas where she would enhance security cooperation with Israel and increase the U.S. military presence in the region. She also said she would aggressively target Iranian-backed terrorist groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Notably, in an appeal for civil discussion on both sides of the debate, Clinton backed the Senate leadership aspirations of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., one of a handful of Democratic senators who oppose the deal. She said that while she disagreed with her “friend, Chuck Schumer,” he was “going to be an excellent leader in the Senate.”