U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State James Baker believe that an Israeli attack on Iran would not stop its nuclear program.
The two made the remarks in an interview with Charlie Rose on Wednesday. Baker also said that only the United States – not Israel – would be able to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“We ought to try every possible avenue we can to see if we can get them to correct their desire and goal of acquiring a nuclear weapon, but we cannot let them acquire that weapon,” Baker said, adding, “We are the only country in the world that can stop that. The Israelis, in my opinion, do not have the capability of stopping it. They can delay it. There will also be many, many side effects, all of them adverse, from an Israeli strike. But at the end of the day, if we don’t get it done the way the Administration’s working on it now – which I totally agree with – then we ought to take them out.”
Baker noted remarks by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, who “said if Israel hits the Iranian nuclear facilities, we’re going to lose a lot of American lives in the region,” according to Baker.
“There are a lot of unanticipated consequences that could follow from that, not least of which is strengthening the hand of the hardliners in Iran,” said Baker. “I mean, you don’t want to do that. They’re having troubles now. The sanctions are not complete yet. We want to squeeze them down more. But they’re having an effect. And the government is having some problems, and you don’t want to lose all that.”
Clinton mentioned the “vigorous debate going on within the leadership decision-making group in Iran. There are those who say look, these sanctions are really biting, we’re not making the kind of economic progress we should be making, we don’t give up that much by saying we’re not going to do a nuclear weapon and having a verifiable regime to demonstrate that.”
She also said that “frankly, there are those who are saying the best thing that could happen to us is be attacked by somebody, just bring it on, because that would unify us, it would legitimize the regime. You feel sometimes when you hear analysts and knowledgeable people talking about Iran that they fear so much about the survival of the regime, because deep down it’s not a legitimate regime, it doesn’t represent the will of the people, it’s kind of morphed into kind of a military theocracy.”
Clinton also warned that a nuclear Iran would result in an “arms race that would take place in the region with such unforeseen consequences. Because you name any country with the means, anywhere near Iran that is an Arab country, if Iran has a nuclear weapon – I can absolutely bet on it and know I will win – they will be in the market within hours. And that is going to create a cascade of difficult challenges for us and for Israel and for all of our friends and partners.”
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak likened the possibility of a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear program to “a miracle” in a Washington Post interview Wednesday.
"Whoever thinks that it’s complicated to deal with Iran right now, as some think-tank leaders are writing: Just close your eyes and think what it will mean to deal with these very same issues once Iran turns nuclear as a result of an absence of political will," Barak said. “It will be much more dangerous, much more costly in terms of human lives and financial resources. And it will become nuclear if the world will not be tough enough to stop it.”
At a meeting with Clinton in Washington on Wednesday, Vice Prime Minister and Kadima head Shaul Mofaz said that it was imperative that Iran's nuclear program be stopped, and that no option should be taken off the table.
“After the failure at the third round of talks with the Iranians in Moscow, it is time for the United States and the Western powers to impose more severe sanctions in the oil embargo and financial sectors in order to stop Iran's nuclear development program,” Mofaz said at the meeting. He added that in addition to these measures there is a need “to continue to prepare all of the other options.”
Agreeing with Mofaz was former British Prime Minister and current Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair. In an interview on Army Radio Thursday, Blair said bluntly that “all options, including the military option, are still on the table. All these options are terrible,” Blair said, “but Iran cannot be allowed to go nuclear.