Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Notable Nonproliferation Quotes from the Democratic debate on June 3

The New Hampshire Democratic debate failed to address the disarmament of our current nuclear arsenal, although moderator Wolf Blitzer had me on the edge of my seat when he asked the presidential hopefuls, "are there relics of the Cold War, big tickets, military items, that you would cut [from the military budget]?" Nuclear weapons were not brought up.

Nuke issues with Iran did become part of the conversation, however, with the following notable moments:

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY):

You know, the president's policy has been, we don't talk in this administration to people we don't agree with or that we think are bad... In my administration, diplomacy -- patient, careful diplomacy... that really gets people to stay with it over time. Are you always going to get good results? No. But you've got to start the process. However, we still have to make it clear that Iran having a nuclear weapon is absolutely unacceptable. We have to try to prevent that at all costs. But we need to start with diplomacy in order to see what we can accomplish.
When asked what she would do if diplomacy does not work, Clinton managed to avoid giving a solid answer:
I'm not going to get into hypotheticals, because we've had an administration that doesn't believe in diplomacy.
Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC):
We don't have economic leverage over the Iranians, but the Europeans do, the European banking system does. We should put two options on the table. One, carrots; we'll make the nuclear fuel available to you, the international community, but we'll control it, you can't nuclearize -- you can't weaponize it. Second, we're going to put a clear set of economic incentives on the table... And then the alternative, the stick, is if they don't do that, there are going to be serious economic sanctions.
When asked whether he would maintain the threat of a military strike, Edwards responded:
I think this is the clear path. I think no president, no responsible president, would ever take any option off the table.
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE):
I would do away with the policy of regime change. What we're saying to everybody in Iran is, "Look, by the way, give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you, and after that we're going to attack you. We're going to take you down." It's a bizarre notion, number one. Number two, understand how weak Iran is. They are not a year away or two years away. They're a decade away from being able to weaponize... if they put a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that can strike. They're far away from that. Number three, in fact, we're going to -- we have to understand how weak that government is. They import almost all of their refined oil. By 2014, they're going to be importing their crude oil. There's much better ways, if we had to get to the point of being real sanctions, of doing economic sanctions on them forcefully that way. But at the end of the day, if they posed the missile, stuck it on a pad, I'd take it out.

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