Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Canadian audience this week that she supports President Barack Obama’s threat to veto a new Iran sanctions bill.
“Why do we want to be the catalyst for the collapse of negotiations?” Clinton asked during a speech in Winnipeg, in reference to a bill proposed by U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill).
In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Obama promised to veto a new Iran sanctions bill, saying such legislation would “undo the progress” of the ongoing nuclear talks.
“If we’re the reason-through our Congress-that in effect gives Iran and others the excuse not to continue the negotiations, that would be, in my view, a very serious strategic error,” Clinton said.
Some pro-Israel groups sharply criticized Clinton’s remarks. Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks called Clinton’s foreign policy judgment “clearly lacking” and said that rewarding the Iranian regime with more time is a “catalyst to empower and embolden the Iranian regime further.”
In November 2013, Iran and the P5+1 powers (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany) signed an interim nuclear deal that limited new Western sanctions against Iran and provided a window for negotiations for a comprehensive deal. But the deadline for a final deal has been extended several times, with the latest deadline being June 30, 2015.
The new Menendez-Kirk bill expands on existing sanctions on Iran’s financial and energy sections, and would kick in if Iran and world powers fail to reach an agreement by the end of June. The Endowment of Middle East Truth (EMET) said Clinton “fails to grasp the meaning of the Menendez-Kirk legislation.”
“Far from being a diplomatic handicap, the Menendez-Kirk sanctions legislation is a diplomatic guarantor that the negotiations will be a success. … It is patently clear that the bill serves as an incentive for successful negotiations,” said Sarah Stern, president of EMET.