Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blasted President Donald Trump’s approach to Iran and North Korea as ill-conceived and irresponsible.
In an interview taped Wednesday that aired Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” the defeated 2016 presidential candidate said, “Why on Earth would we want two nuclear challenges with Iran and North Korea at the same time?”
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Though her remarks were taped before the president’s statement Friday about the Iran nuclear deal, she blasted the logic behind his efforts to back away from the agreement, which also includes England, France, Germany, Russia and China. “I think it’s very dangerous,” she told Zakaria of Trump’s efforts.
Negotiations for the deal began when she was secretary of state, but concluded in President Barack Obama’s second term, when John Kerry held the office. The agreement is designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Trump campaigned against the deal throughout the 2016 election season as being one-sided in favor of Iran and promised to put an end to it.
“First of all, it basically says America’s word is not good,” she said, arguing that backing away from an international agreement makes it hard to get other nations to agree to any future deal with the United States
She also said it casts Iran in sympathetic light as the victim in the situation: “If Iran is complying, which all the evidence is, then all of a sudden, instead of working to isolate Iran on every issue, we are giving Iran the spotlight — the aggrieved-party spotlight.”
Clinton added: “That makes us look foolish and small and plays right into Iranian hands.”
Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the issue with the agreement is Iran’s approach to its compliance — in particular, the way he said Iran waited until the deadline for doing something to actually comply.
“That demonstrated pattern of always walking right up against the edges of the agreement are what give us some concern as to how far Iran might be willing to go to test the limits from its side of the agreement,” Tillerson said.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, also backed Trump on Iran. “We cannot allow this rogue regime 30 times the size of North Korea’s economy to have a nuclear arsenal,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “It’s a very brave decision, and I think it’s the right decision for the world.”
In the wide-ranging interview with Zakaria, Clinton also said Trump was playing into the hands of North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un by taunting him (“What we’ve done is build him up, give him more legitimacy than he deserves”) and echoed Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) in his remarks about Trump’s efforts to “publicly castrate” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Clinton said she was “deeply distressed” that Trump had undercut Tillerson on Twitter as he was attempting to engage in diplomacy over the North Korean situation.
“You should not be talking about matters of peace and war and nuclear weapons with tweets,” she said. “And yet we know that is how the president behaves.”