Clinton set forth U.S. policy toward Iran in a statement answering questions posed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "No decisions have been made regarding the timing, configuration, and scope of any discussions with Iran...If diplomacy is unsuccessful, we will be better able to rally the world to our side, strengthen multilateral sanctions, and to convince the Iranian people that their own government is the author of its isolation....all elements of American power are on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." In her oral remarks, Clinton said that the premise of US policy would be that nuclear weapons in iran are "unacceptable...and we are going to act on" this premise. She said the new administration would "try to achieve greater international support for . . . actions that would actually influence" the Iranian government and other key players, including the country's supreme leader, its Revolutionary Guard and the elite Quds Force.
The new Administration will present the Iranian regime with a clear choice: abandon your nuclear weapons program and support for terror and threats to Israel and there win be meaningful incentives; refuse, and we will ratchet up the pressure, with stronger unilateral sanctions; stronger multilateral sanctions in the Security Council; and sustained action outside the UN to isolate the Iranian regime. A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, and all elements of American power are on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon That must begin with the power of aggressive and direct American diplomacy. The Obama Administration will support tough, aggressive, and direct diplomacy, without preconditions, with our adversaries. Note that there is a distinction between preparations and preconditions. For possible negotiations with Iran, there must be careful preparation -- including low-level talks, coordination with allies, the establishment of an agenda, and an evaluation of the potential for progress. The President-Elect has said that he is willing to engage in diplomacy with any leader, at a time and place of his choosing, if he believes that it can advance America's interests. The US should support and participate in ongoing efforts with our European allies and assemble an international coalition that will exert a collective will on Iran so that it is in their own interest to verifiably abandon their nuclear weapons efforts. We will carefully prepare for any negotiations- open up lines of communication, build an agenda, coordinate closely with our allies, and evaluate the potential for progress.
We will not sit down with Iran just for the sake of talking. But we are willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leader at a time and place of our choosing - if, and only if - it can advance the interests of the United States. No decisions have been made regarding the timing, configuration, and scope of any discussions with Iran, but we will certainly coordinate closely with our allies as we move forward. Through aggressive diplomacy, we can create new opportunities for progress. Even if diplomacy is unsuccessful, we will be better able to rally the world to our side, strengthen multilateral sanctions, and to convince the Iranian people that their own government is the author of its isolation.
As noted above, the incoming Administration will support tough negotiations with Iran and will be evaluating the best forums and interlocutors for that engagement. We have also supported direct engagement with Iran as a part of a diplomatic initiative involving all of Iraq's neighbors. No decision has yet been made on the continuation of the specific talks that you identify. The decision regarding whether to open a U.S. interests section in Tehran is under review and no decision has been made yet.