Daily Israel Report

Clinton Says Al-Qaeda Greater Threat than Iran

Hillary Clinton claimed Al-Qaeda is more dangerous than Iran, which said it will produce high-grade uranium. Gates: Give sanctions a chance.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 2/7/2010, 11:07 PM

Israel news photo

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton downgraded the Iranian threat to produce a nuclear weapon on Sunday and claimed that the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization is more of a danger to the world.

Shortly after her comments in an interview with CNN Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced his country will produce 20-percent grade uranium, which Israel and the United States warn will be used to produce a nuclear warhead for a missile aimed at annihilating the Jewish State. His statement represents an about-face from previous declarations that Iran would agree to send lower-grade uranium outside the country for enrichment, although Ahmadinejad said he was not giving up Tehran’s readiness to swap domestically produced low-enriched uranium with atomic fuel produced abroad..

Secretary Clinton told CNN, "In terms of a country, obviously a nuclear-armed country like North Korea or Iran pose both a real or a potential threat, but I think that most of us believe the greater threats are the trans-national non-state networks," referring to Al-Qaeda.

She also defended U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategy of “engaging” Iran diplomatically, arguing that “engagement has brought us a lot in the last year. The fact is, because we engaged, the rest of the world has really begun to see Iran the way we see it,” according to the wife of former President Bill Clinton.

“It’s almost hard to remember how poorly much of the world viewed the United States when President Obama came into office,” she said. “And both his election and his persona, combined with the approach we took of seeking to find the basis for engagement on mutual respect and mutual interest, have really created a much more open, receptive atmosphere.”

While she was calling for “engagement” and Ahmadinejad in effect said Iran will violate five United Nations resolutions by producing 20-percent grade uranium, Defense Secretary Robert Gates insisted, “I believe there is still time for sanctions and pressure to work.”

The United States, Britain, France and Russia was expected to back new United Nations Security Council resolution for tougher sanctions on Iran, but they still run the risk that China will veto or insist on a milder resolution.