Speaking to a Senate panel today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared a hypothetical Iran nuclear capability to be an “extraordinary threat,” and said that it was “going to spark an arms race” in the Middle East. She added that she didn’t expect any progress on the issue from the Iranian side during their election season.
Secretary Clinton made no direct reference to Iran’s successful test of a long-range missile today during her comments, but her Defense Department counterpart Robert Gates was pressed over the issue in a talk on missile defense.
Iran’s presidential election is to be held on June 12, and with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urging the nation to shun pro-West candidates, it seems unlikely that anyone would want to give the appearance of acquiescence to the US on the nuclear issue.
At issue is Iran’s civilian nuclear program, which Western diplomats have been claiming is cover for as secret nuclear weapons program. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed that Iran has not diverted any uranium to any purpose other than its civilian energy program, and insists that it does not even have the capability of making such a weapon if it wanted to.