Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Sheraton Waterside Hotel
April 3, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much for that introduction. And in this fast-changing world, we need leaders with a steady hand and a clear vision for the future. General, you have demonstrated both, and I very much appreciate that.
I also want to thank Larry Baucom – thank you, Admiral, for your leadership of the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads – Mayor Paul Fraim and the city council for helping to host this event. I’m delighted that Congressman Bobby Scott and Congressman Scott Rigell could join us, and I thank them for that.
It is for me a great pleasure to be back in Norfolk. When I was representing New York in the United States Senate, I was asked to serve on a committee advising the Joint Command. It was a fascinating experience, and I have many very wonderful memories of the meetings and the hospitality that we were afforded here. And it’s especially timely that we would meet, since tomorrow marks the 63rd anniversary of the signing of the Washington Treaty, when 12 countries pledged to safeguard each other’s freedom and committed to the principles of democracy, liberty, and the rule of law.
From those earliest days, Norfolk served as a crucial naval base and training facility for the alliance and our partners. And today it is home to ACT, where staff from every nation in NATO are taking on one of the most important challenges we face together – how to continue transforming our alliance so that it can champion those principles just as effectively in the 21st century as we did in the 20th century. And there can be no better place and no better time, as you celebrate another Norfolk NATO Festival, to discuss the greatest alliance in history and the future we are shaping together.
This morning, I had the great privilege of going to VMI and addressing the cadets and members of the community there. And I talked about General Marshall, an extraordinary American whose life of service still is unique, not only as a military leader but as the secretary of state and the secretary of defense. And I was reminded, as I looked through the pictures in the George Marshall Museum after speaking with the cadets about George Marshall and our vision of how to take those eternal values that he so well represented and bring them forward into today’s time and then projected into the future, of the challenges faced by that generation when they began this great enterprise known as NATO. There was nothing certain about it. NATO and the Marshall Plan were extraordinarily visionary. They were smart power, the original form of that phrase, in action. And it set the future on a firm foundation.
So I think we live in a similarly challenging time. And it therefore is incumbent upon us, citizens and leaders alike, to chart a similarly firmly-founded future, based on the values we cherish and the direction that we seek for the kind of country and world we want to leave to our children.
It was extraordinary, 63 years ago, when this enterprise known as NATO started. Now, some will say the world was a simpler place, divided into that bipolarity of freedom and communism, the West and the Soviet Union and others. And it was dangerous; there was no doubt about that. I grew up during that period and can still remember those drills of going under our desks in case we were attacked by a nuclear weapon. (Laughter.) Looking back now, it seems a little strange – (laughter) – but at the time, we all understood that we were in a battle, a battle for the future.
Well, we are now in a battle for the future. And one of the great attributes of our country has always been how we preferred the future, how we planned and executed in order to achieve tomorrow what we hoped to see happen, and also how we came together for the common good around common goals, and therefore representing in a historic arc the success of this remarkable nation.
Well, as we live in this period of breathtaking change, we are called upon to respond similarly. Democratic transitions are underway in North Africa and the Middle East, whose outcomes are not known. Syrians are undergoing horrific assault by a brutal dictator. The end of the story has not yet been written. The United States has ended combat operations in Iraq, but the future of Iraq is not secure. And in Afghanistan, NATO and our ISAF partners have begun transitioning responsibility for security to the Afghan people.
Now, these and other shifts are taking place in the context of broader trends – the rise of emerging powers, the spread of technology that is connecting more people in more places, and empowering them to influence global events and participate in the global economy like never before. And this is all occurring against the backdrop of a recovering economy from the worst recession in recent memory.
Now, amid all this change, there are some things we can count on. One is the unbreakable bond between America and Europe, a bond created by shared values and common purpose. In virtually every challenge we face today, Europe is America’s partner of first resort. We’re working together in the Middle East and North Africa, in Afghanistan, and reaching out to emerging powers and regions, like those nations in the Asia Pacific.
Now, we will always work together, Europe and America. That won’t change. But the way we work together must change when the times require it. We have to test ourselves regularly, making sure we are focusing on the right problems and putting our resources where they’re needed most. At the State Department and USAID, I started a process designed to do just that: the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, modeled on a similar review that the Defense Department undertakes every four years. We finished that first review more than a year ago, and it continues to drive our effort to become more adept at responding to the threats and opportunities of our time.
Now all of this should sound familiar to those of you who are following the transformation of NATO. This alliance is no stranger to change. Fifty years ago, it was created to lay that foundation for the reemergence of Western Europe and to stand as a bulwark against Soviet aggression.
After the Cold War, NATO’s mission evolved to reforming and integrating Central and Eastern Europe as they rose from decades of Communism. Then two years ago in Lisbon, the leaders of NATO set another new course for our alliance by adopting a strategic concept that takes on the security threats of the 21st century from terrorism to cyber attacks to nuclear proliferation. Next month, we will take another step in this evolution when President Obama hosts the NATO Summit in Chicago. Now, we are both eager to show off Chicago – I was born there, and he of course calls it home, and we’re looking forward to making concrete progress on a number of important issues.
First, is the ongoing transition in Afghanistan. I understand that your own and Maria Zammit came back yesterday from leading a WAC mission to Afghanistan and will be reporting to your fellow group members throughout the country on what she saw there, and I’m glad the State Department could help make that trip happen.
In Lisbon, we set a goal of transitioning full responsibility for security to Afghan security forces by 2014, and they’re making real progress toward that goal. Al-Qaida senior leadership has been decimated and its relationship with the Taliban is fraying.
Meanwhile, the Afghan National Security Forces are becoming stronger and more capable. Today, roughly 50 percent of the Afghan population lives in an area where they are taking responsibility for security. And this spring, the number will go up to 75 percent.
Now, I’m well-aware we’ve had a very difficult period in that relationship. And there is certainly a lot to be learned from the incidents that we have watched unfold. But it should not (inaudible) the fact that we have made progress and are continuing to do so. In Chicago, we will work to define the next phase in this transition, in particular, we will look to set a milestone for 2013, when ISAF will move from a predominantly combat role to a supporting role, training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces while participating in combat operations when necessary.
This milestone is consistent with the commitments we made in Lisbon because it will ensure that ISAF maintain a robust troop presence and combat capability to support the Afghan people as the transition completes. By the end of 2014, Afghans will be fully responsible. In Chicago we will discuss the form that NATO’s enduring relationship with Afghanistan will then take. We also hope that, by the time we meet in Chicago, the United States will have concluded our negotiations with Afghanistan on a long-term strategic partnership between our two nations. We anticipate that a small number of forces will remain, at the invitation of the Afghan Government, for the sole purpose of training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and continuing to pursue counterterrorism operations. But we do not seek permanent American military bases in Afghanistan or a presence that is considered a threat to the neighbors, which leads to instability that threatens the gains that have been made in Afghanistan.
It is also essential that the Afghan National Security Forces that we have worked so hard to train have sufficient, sustainable funding for the long run. We’re consulting with allies and partners to reach a unified vision for how we can support these forces. We want to make it clear to the Afghan Government and the Afghan people, as well as to the insurgents and others in the region that NATO will not abandon Afghanistan.
Now, clearly our relationship with Afghanistan has its share of challenges, from the killing of American and allied troops by Afghan security personnel to the unintentional mishandling of Qu’rans and the tragic murder of Afghan civilians by Americans. People on all sides are asking tough questions about whether we can work past our differences. And while these such incidents have tested our relationship, they have also shown how resilient it is. So the transition remains on track and Afghan officials have worked with us to lower tensions. We have maintained communications at the highest levels and continue having productive discussions on complex issues, like a plan to transition detention operations. We believe a stable Afghanistan is in America’s interest, in NATO’s interest, and we remain committed to working to achieve it.
We also remain committed to supporting Afghan reconciliation. Our goal is to open the door for Afghans to sit down with other Afghans and work out the future for their country. The United States has been clear about the necessary outcomes of any negotiation. Insurgents must renounce violence, abandon al-Qaida, and abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, including its protections for women and minorities. If Afghanistan is ever going to reach its full potential, the rights of women, minorities, and all Afghans must be protected, and their opportunities to participate in their society must be preserved.
We’ve also been clear about the steps the Taliban must now take to advance the process. They must make unambiguous statements distancing themselves from international terrorism and committing to a peace process that includes all Afghans.
So the Taliban have their own choice to make. We will continue to apply military pressure, but we are prepared to work with Afghans who are committed to an inclusive reconciliation process that leads toward peace and security.
Now, as we proceed on these diplomatic and security fronts, we’re also promoting economic development. Afghanistan’s political future is inextricably linked to its economic future, and in fact, the economic future of the entire region. That is a lesson we have learned over and over all over the world: People need a realistic hope for a better life, a job and a chance to provide for their family. And to that end, last year in Bonn, ISAF partners adopted a vision for what we call the Transformation Decade – the period stretching from 2014 through 2024, when international assistance will encourage growth and development in the Afghan private sector. Part of that effort is an idea we call the New Silk Road, a web of economic and transit connections that will bind together a region too long torn apart by conflict and division. We’re partnering with the World Bank and others to help Afghanistan integrate its economy with others in the region, to begin trading and investing with one another, and developing new sources of growth. The private sector will be crucial role in this effort.
On each of these fronts – security, diplomatic, and economic – we are helping the people of Afghanistan strengthen their country and ensure that it never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.
Our second goal in Chicago touches on a subject that is at the center of ACT’s work, our shared effort to update NATO’s defense capabilities for the 21st century. Two years ago in Lisbon, our leaders laid out a vision for the alliance for the next decade. That vision commits us to ensuring that NATO can deter and defend against any threat. Yet we are taking on this challenge at a moment when the budget of every member country is stretched especially thin. So in Chicago, we will outline a clear vision of how NATO will maintain the capabilities we need in line with the resources we have. This approach works hand-in-hand with Secretary General Rasmussen’s concept of smart defense, which is designed to make sure our alliance remains agile and efficient as well as strong. And I appreciate the work that has been done from ACT in building political support throughout NATO for this innovative approach.
Here’s an example of how it works in practice. We are collaborating on a new Alliance Ground Surveillance system, which uses drones to provide crucial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information to our forces. If each country in NATO had to buy this system separately, it would be prohibitively expensive. But by pooling our resources and sharing the burden, we can provide better security for every ally at a lower cost. And in Chicago, we’ll decide how to use this system as a hub for joint operations.
There are other ways we will look to strengthen our work together. In Lisbon, for example, we agreed to deploy a missile defense system to provide full coverage and protection for NATO European territory, population, and forces against the growing ballistic missile threat. In Chicago, we will look to advance that goal by developing our plans for NATO to exercise command and control of missile defense assets. We will also seek a commitment to joint exercises and training programs that deepen the habits of cooperation we have developed through our work together in Afghanistan. And we will highlight NATO’s decision to extend the Baltic Air Policing Program, which reassures our Baltic allies and frees up resources they can contribute to other NATO efforts, including Afghanistan.
Finally, our third goal in Chicago will be to cement and expand our global partnerships. Now of course, NATO is and always will be a transatlantic organization, but the problems we face today are not limited to one ocean, and neither can our work be. More than 20 non-NATO countries are providing troops and resources in Afghanistan. Elsewhere, we work with non-NATO partners to fight piracy, counter violent extremism, keep peace in Kosovo. And when NATO moved to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions on the protection of civilians in Libya, it did so in lockstep with non-NATO partners from Europe and the Middle East.
And let me pause here for a moment to celebrate the role so many of you at ACT played in that effort. Operation Unified Protector was a massive and complex undertaking. It succeeded because our allies and partners collaborated smoothly, and that cooperation was made possible by the training and interoperability planning that you do here. It’s no exaggeration to say that thousands of Libyans are alive today because of your work.
In Chicago we will build on these partnerships, as promised. We’ll recognize the operational, financial, and political contributions of our partners across a range of efforts to defend our common values in the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa. We want to learn what worked and what didn’t, and I do believe in evidenced-based planning. And what we see in NATO is a very impressive example of that. It’s not only the planning that looks forward, but it’s the lessons learned that help us look backward to make that forward planning even better.
Now, the three areas I’ve outlined today – defining the next phase of the transition in Afghanistan, outlining a vision for addressing 21st century challenges in a period of austerity, and expanding our partnerships – shows just how much NATO has evolved over the past six decades. But they should also remind us that we must continue to evolve. Transforming any institution isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it is a project that never really ends. But we have strong leaders and the right strategies in place. And everything we have accomplished so far points toward how much we can achieve in the days and years to come. If we stay nimble and work together, we can continue to make the world more peaceful and secure.
So let me end where I started, with George Marshall. Now, I’m not sure that even someone as visionary as he could have imagined that NATO would be working together in Afghanistan, or protecting civilians in Libya from a ruthless dictator, or keeping the peace in the Balkans, but I don’t think he would’ve been surprised. Remember, this was a man who played a part in preparing the United States for war in the First World War, rebuilding the Army between the wars, and then rebuilding it again for Korea. This is a man who always understood that our military strength was necessary but not sufficient, that what America stands for, the values that we’ve all (inaudible) and practiced, are really what is most attractive to the rest of the world about us.
And he was also someone who took on himself the task of selling the Marshall Plan to a country exhausted from war. I often just wonder with great admiration how he pulled it off. Here was this idea that he and President Truman and Dean Acheson and Senator Vandenberg and others decided was crucial to America’s future. But just put yourself back into the mindset of someone like my father, who had finished his time in the Navy and was really only interested in getting back to business, raising a family, just having a peaceful future. And all of the sudden, the leaders of his country are saying, you know, we’ve just spent our blood and treasure defeating enemies that we now want to tap you to help rebuild. What an astonishing idea.
And it took visionaries (inaudible) both parties who understood what was at stake in the world that existed after the end of that horrific spasm of violence that took so many lives. And George Marshall went about the business of making the case, coming to organizations like this, speaking to civic clubs across the country, explaining why it was in America’s interest. And thankfully, I would argue, he made that case. And in today’s dollars, it cost about $130 billion, so that people like my father, a small businessman, kept paying taxes that went to rebuilding countries that he had trained young men to go and fight in.
So as we look at the future before us, as complex and unpredictable as it is, we need to be guided by our own very clear-eyed view of what is in America’s interests, and then to chart a path along with our partners in NATO and other nations who share the values that we believe represent the best hope for humanity – freedom and democracy, respecting the dignity and human rights of every person. And as we do that, we of course will have no guarantee of what the future holds. That’s never been possible. But we will once again make the right bet, a bet on America’s leadership and strength, just as we did in the 20th century, for this century and beyond.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for your inspiring remarks and also for agreeing to answer a few questions. And I know out there while most of us would love to participate in this, in the interest of time and also in the interest of the tradition and the commitment of the World Affairs Council to education, we would like to give this opportunity to a few of our students, including a couple of Fulbright scholarships at Old Dominion University. And so, Brian, you have the microphone, if you would go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. My name is (inaudible). I am a Fulbright (inaudible) from Afghanistan now studying international studies at Old Dominion University (inaudible) program. My question is about the long-term relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. There is a sense of uncertainty among Afghans in general about (inaudible) Afghanistan. The terrorists and insurgents and their supporters (inaudible) in the neighboring countries are warning people that they are coming back. What is your message for Afghans (inaudible) and countries supporting terrorists and American people about (inaudible) in Afghanistan? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much, and I’m delighted that you are here in Virginia studying at one of our universities. And I wish you well with your studies and certainly hope that you will find a way to contribute to your country’s future.
Your question really goes to the heart of what we are trying to do. And our strategy, in shorthand, is called Fight, Talk, and Build. We do all of them simultaneously. We continue to take the fight to the Taliban and the insurgents, because we believe that their attempt to terrorize and intimidate the people of Afghanistan would lead the country backwards; it would undermine the positive changes that have occurred in the lives of people in the last 10 years.
At the same time, we know that you don’t make peace with your friends, and it is unlikely that an insurgency nearly anywhere in the world can be ended solely by military means, which requires therefore that we look to see if there is an opportunity for Afghans to talk to Afghans to try to bring about a peaceful resolution.
We know that there are those in the Taliban who would welcome such an opportunity for a resolution that was negotiated that would enable them to lay down their arms, come back to Afghanistan with their families, and peacefully participate in the political process. We also know that there are leaders within the Taliban who do not intend to negotiate and do not wish that anyone else does either.
So what we have seen in the last year, ever since I made a speech in February of last year outlining our willingness to support a reconciliation process, is a very complicated and divisive debate going on within the Taliban and related insurgency groups. How that plays out, I cannot predict to you right now. But we know what the requirements for participation must be. They must be genuinely committed to a peaceful future, and they must renounce violence and al-Qaida and agree to abide by the laws of Afghanistan. Those have to be the outcomes of any negotiation.
And I think that it’s going to be mostly up to the Afghan people whether Afghans themselves can come together across all the lines that historically have divided Afghans – regionally, ethnically, religiously. There must be a commitment by Afghan leadership and citizens to defending your country – all of its territorial integrity – and to working to build it.
So our efforts are aimed at continuing to weaken the insurgency, which we have done – there is no doubt about that; and continuing to try to build up governance so that there are not ungoverned areas within Afghanistan; and to commit to institution building that will enable Afghanistan to be secure in the future.
You mentioned the neighboring countries, and there is no question that every neighboring country plays a role for better or worse in Afghanistan, as historically has been the case. There have been books written about the great game over the seeking of dominance within Afghanistan. What we have tried to do is to find fruitful, productive ways for countries to engage with Afghanistan and to look for ways to integrate Afghanistan into the region so that there are more benefits to trading with Afghanistan, doing business with Afghanistan, than trying to interfere with the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
This is an immensely complicated situation which you know better than most, having experienced it firsthand. But there is a path forward, and NATO-ISAF partners are prepared to work with Afghanistan after 2014. The United States is prepared to support Afghanistan after 2014. But ultimately, this will be up to the Afghan people.
And I worry that a lot of Afghans are themselves uncertain about the path forward, and they have to believe in this better vision. The education of children has increased dramatically. The health care available has increased dramatically. The economy has grown. It’s a much more successful country in terms of delivering results to its people than it was 10 years ago. So Afghans have to be willing to really stand up for that progress and, if necessary, fight for it. And if you do, you will have a partner in NATO and the United States. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. My name is Nick (inaudible) and I am an international studies graduate student at Old Dominion University. In the area of cyber warfare, in what way has the rapid development of technology after the Stuxnet attack on Iran impacted regional stability in the Middle East? And what can the United States and NATO do to enforce global norms, given the attribution problem inherent in cyber attacks?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a very sophisticated question. You are definitely a graduate student. I can tell that. (Laughter). Congratulations. (Laughter.) We were talking about enhancing NATO’s capabilities for dealing with cyber attacks earlier at the command headquarters, and this is new territory that we are navigating together, because the technology advances at such an astronomical rate of speed that it’s hard for any nation to keep up with it.
Now, we are looking both within the United States Government and in NATO as to how we extend our defense to the threats posed by cyber attacks, even cyber warfare. And we know that it is an almost constant threat. There is a steady drumbeat of attacks on governments, on businesses, on all kinds of networks every single day. And we have to be in a position to protect ourselves and, under Article 5, protect our NATO partners. There have been some rather significant attacks on NATO partners over the last several years that have caused consternation because of the damage done to classified information, and so therefore we are in the process of working toward a joint capability.
Now, in the United States, we adopted a cyber strategy last year, and I will say that it’s a difficult – it’s a very difficult area, because even within our own government, if your primary responsibility is protecting your networks, whether they be military, intelligence, or in our case State Department networks, then you’re going to want to put up big walls. But if your primary interest is promoting trade and commerce, the free flow of information, then you’re going to want to have lower walls. And so the compromises even within a single government are very difficult.
I think that this is an area of your interest or really anyone’s here. We’re going to need all of the smart people thinking on this that we possibly can get. One of my colleagues at the Defense Department said not so long ago that what really we should be doing is just hiring a bunch of 15-year-olds and putting them into a room in the Pentagon and empowering them to protect our networks, and we’d be probably better off. (Laughter.) That’s probably only a slight exaggeration. (Laughter.)
But I really – this has not gotten a lot of attention yet, because it hasn’t caused a catastrophe that is visible yet. But I can tell you at the State Department we get attacked every single day. And we’ve had to increase our firewalls and our defenses technology, and we’ll have to keep doing it. And it’s very expensive, because you have to stay ahead of what you think the next threat will be, even though it hasn’t happened yet.
So this is going to be a tough challenge. And then of course, it raises questions within NATO, like if a hostile nation or a hostile group or even just a – one of these hacker groups that likes to see what they can do causes a serious problem in the electric grid of a nation in NATO or shuts down the military computers or wipes them clean or whatever the attack might do, does that trigger Article 5 collective security obligations? Is that a new form of warfare, or does it have gradations that we have to carefully define?
So if you’re interested, you can get a copy of the United States Government’s most recent strategy on cyber security and see where our thinking has led us, but it is a constantly evolving problem that we have to get control over to the best of our ability. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, my name is (inaudible) and I’m a Fulbright fellow from Turkey and (inaudible) Old Dominion University. My question is: What are the tools to strengthen peacemaking and (inaudible) Euro-Atlantic level on Iranian nuclear proliferation, taking into consideration the passivity of the European Union if direct action is taken on the nuclear sites of Iran? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I’m delighted to see you here and pursuing a Fulbright scholarship, and congratulations. I was in Istanbul on Saturday night and Sunday for the meeting known as the Friends of the Syrian People and had a long meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan about his recent trip to Iran.
Where we are in this very difficult situation is that we are continuing to implement these very tough sanctions on Iran. They have been complied with to a greater degree than I think many people might have expected. The Europeans have been particularly strong in giving up access to crude oil when many of the nations of the European Union were quite dependent on Iranian crude oil. As you know, Turkey just announced a cutback of 20 percent in its import of Iranian crude oil. So countries from Europe to Japan are working very hard, often at great cost economically, to comply with these sanctions.
And we know that it is having an impact inside Iran. The value of the rial has dropped by more than a third. Inflation is up, some say higher than 20 percent. There is a debate going on within the leadership of Iran, and we are hoping that there will be a resumption of what are called the P-5+1 talks with Iran about the nuclear program. The P-5, of course, are the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and the European Union. We’re hoping that those talks will commence within the next several weeks. And we’re hoping that there will be a path forward that gives the Iranians a reason to believe that it is in their national interest not to pursue their nuclear program but to give up the enriched – highly enriched uranium they already have and give up the enrichment and reprocessing that they’ve been doing in return for support for peaceful nuclear energy.
It is a very hard negotiation. And I think that everyone realizes that the anxiety levels in the Gulf, where I also was in Riyadh last Friday and Saturday, are rising. The anxiety, certainly, in Israel over a nuclear-armed Iran is very high. So we believe that there has to be a negotiation within a set timeline and work as hard as we can to try to see whether there is any room for agreement. I can’t foresee exactly what the outcome will be, but I think it was welcome that they said they would return to the negotiating table. Now we’ll see whether they indeed do.
The other interesting development which you may have followed was the repetition by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that they would – that he had issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons, against weapons of mass destruction. Prime Minister Erdogan and I discussed this at some length, and I’ve discussed with a number of experts and religious scholars. And if it is indeed a statement of principle, of values, then it is a starting point for being operationalized, which means that it serves as the entryway into a negotiation as to how you demonstrate that it is indeed a sincere, authentic statement of conviction. So we will test that as well.
This is a very, very difficult – to be a master of understatement – a very difficult situation that the world faces right now. And indeed, there is no clear path. We know that a nuclear-armed Iran would be incredibly destabilizing to the region and beyond. A conflict arising out of their program would also be very destabilizing. So this is not a way – there’s no way to balance this. It’s – we have two very difficult paths here.
I guess finally, I would say that, having just come from the Gulf, it’s important to remember that the concerns we have about Iran are first and foremost their potential development of a nuclear weapon, but those are not the only concerns. Iran is a state sponsor and exporter of terrorism from Thailand to Mexico, and Iran also is constantly interfering in the internal affairs of a lot of their neighbors. So the concerns that are shared with me are really threefold.
So as we begin this discussion – assuming it starts – with Iran again, we’re going to be looking for a way to try to convey the legitimate fears that people in the region have about what comes next, because if Iran were ever to get a nuclear weapon, the countries in the region are going to buy their way to one as well. If Iran continues to export terrorism, the countries in the region are going to begin to even do more of that. And then we have a part of the world that is already so fraught with tension becoming even more dangerous. So there’s a lot riding on whether we can get moving on negotiations. It’s really up to the Iranians. I mean, we can’t want it more than they’re willing to offer, and we’ll have to test that to see what is really possible.
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