April 22nd, 2008
05:08 PM ET
6 years ago

Clinton: Iran would pay a 'very high price' for nuclear attack

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Hillary Clinton sends a warning to Iran Tuesday.
Hillary Clinton sends a warning to Iran Tuesday.

(CNN) – Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that her comments that the United States could “totally obliterate” Iran if it made a nuclear attack on Israel had been an attempt to return the United States to Cold War style deterrence.

Responding to accusations from Barack Obama's campaign that she was engaging in the sort of hypothetical thinking she had criticized him for, Clinton said the situations were not equivalent, since the threat from Iran was all too real. “I think in this particular instance of Iran it's a question not of what might be on or off the table concerning a tactical or strategic decision but an effort on my part to get back to what worked during the Cold War which was deterrence,” she told reporters in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

“…Iran is feeling quite powerful. They have been empowered by the actions of the last seven years and they must know there are lines that the world will not let them cross.”

Earlier Tuesday, Clinton told ABC’s Good Morning America that "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran [if it attacked Israel].”"

"In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them," she said. "That's a terrible thing to say but those people who run Iran need to understand that because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic."

At last week’s presidential debate, she said an attack on Israel would bring "massive retaliation" from the United States.

On Tuesday, Obama told ABC that her latest comments amounted to “saber rattling” on the day of the crucial Pennsylvania primary.

His campaign said her comments contradicted her statement at a summer debate, when she criticized Obama for saying he might take unilateral action in Pakistan if there was solid intelligence about the location of al Qaeda members.

Clinton had said then that it was unhelpful for candidates to “engage in hypotheticals” or to signal strategic possibilities as Pakistan was potentially in upheaval.

On Tuesday in Conshohocken, she said her statements were intended to send a strong message of intent. “I want Iran to know, number one, it is not in their interest to obtain nuclear weapons and number two, we will work to deter them from using such weapons by making it clear that there would be a very high price to pay,” she said.

She added that it was vital for Iran to “understand unequivocally” continued U.S. opposition to their desire to attain nuclear weapons, and that if they were to attack Israel or the United States “any way to destabilize the world, that they would have to take the consequences.”


Filed under: Pennsylvania
soundoff (370 Responses)
  1. Bushwacked

    Dang - this interview on Good Morning America ran on the west coast around 7:30am - not exactly big news by now.

    Scary woman. I really supported her at one time, but it seems that every time she opens her mouth, that support goes a little further south.

    All we need is one more war in the middle east - or anywhere else, for that matter.

    Eugene, OR

    April 22, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    GO FOR IT, GUYS !!! VOTE OBAMA, NOW AND HAND IT TO MCCAIN IN NOVEMBER....WHEN THE REPS START BRINGING UP OBAMA'S HISTORICAL POOR JUDGMENT, REGARDING DRUGS, RELATIONSHIPS WITH CRIMINAL BUISNESSMEN AND FANATIC RELIOUS LEADERS....

    April 22, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. leapfrog

    At the beginning of April, she mentioned that everyone should get ready for some surprises...and sure enough there have been plenty. She's gone out of her way to provoke some negative response to Obama, because every attempt she makes to provoke a positive response to her and her policies, it falls flat in the polls. So this is the result. She's willing to threaten a third-world country in an attempt to portray herself as a hard-bitten leader...and the result? She looks absurd. Please PA, enough of this cynical drama queen...go positive, go Obama...

    April 22, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. K

    The day america puts a woman in the white house is the day america will begin it's dissent into no longer being a world power. Not for nothing...if one country attacks another with a nuclear weapon and the attacked country responds.....NOBODY WINS! See, woman are anything but logical and this one is more dangerous than most.

    April 22, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. In oregon and want change

    I am so very scared of this woman being anywhere near the red button, I can't belive she just said that.

    NO MORE WAR!!!!

    My vote in Oregon will be for Obama on May 20th

    April 22, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Obama 08

    dEMOBRAT April 22nd, 2008 2:58 pm ET wrote........................

    "DETERRENCE……READ THE ARTICLE, EDUCATED OBAMA SUPPORTERS.

    SOMETIMES I THINK YOU GUYS POST ON HERE JUST TO READ YOUR OWN COMMENTS AND BE PLEASED WITH YOURSELVES AND YOUR MESSIAH. REMEBER THE EIGHTIES??? WHEN ALL OF RUSSIAS MISSLES WHERE AIMED AT US? SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA PLAY HARDBALL.

    SHE IS POSITIONING HERSELF AS TOUGH ON FOREIGN POLICY FOR THE GENERAL.

    WAY AHEAD OF YOU FOLKS."

    americans are known to the rest of the world as bullies and arrogant SOBs. With the war in Iraq going on, no one wants someone who is starting to 'threaten' other countries even before she becomes the president. She is going to do exactly what Bush did, not listen to people and go into war. America cannot afford any war even if she wanted. So it is upto you to choose a warmonger in the name of fighter or a leader willing to sit down with other countries and not treat them like little kids.

    April 22, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. tjoey

    Wow. Talk about being a cowgirl.

    April 22, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Asian Dub Foundation/CREW

    .....hope is better then WAR.....
    people......Obama will win....new way....new life.....4 America....
    Hillary and Cowboy are hypocrites......
    Let Obama lead this time.....because he moving in the right direction....
    OPEN your eyes......next generations needs your right decision....
    AMEN or AMEEN

    April 22, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. A Conservative

    Attack Iran how? With a few errant guided missles that blew up nothing like "Bill" did and then retire to the Whitehouse for pizza and an intern! What a joke these two are!

    April 22, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Alex

    Mrs. clinton should know better to make such comments. first of all, Iran currently does not have any nuclear weapon. for a person at her position to such comments tells all of us that she's not qualify to be head of this nation. A person that qualify to be the head of this nation need alot more maturalty and respect for the world. as for Israel is a useless little nation that has done Zero good for the US and the people of the united states any way. Israel has wasted billions of the good people in the US money every year for zero return to the people of this country. A nation that receive and received billions of dollar every year and can not even help like Israel is useless nation. Mrs. Clinto, you're not qualify to be the president of this country so go back to Arkansa.

    April 22, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. leapfrog

    ...any notions that this gal has "experience" is illusionary. A REAL leader doesn't have to saber-rattle. A real leader works with the international community, not in spite of it. She has all the ear-marks of Bush, with NONE of the humor...

    April 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Chris from San Antonio

    I had no idea the threat of a Iranian nuclear missles was real. Where is the evidence of these missles, Mrs. Clinton?

    April 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. Ana

    Oh, yeah...vote Obama, now and hand it to the reps in November....great...wait until the reps bring out Obama's history of poor judgment (drugs, friends who are criminal businessmen, fanatic religious leaders, bad mouthing a grnadmother who raised him only because she is white)...oh yes go for it!!!!...

    April 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Adam

    So how would Hillary negotiate with Iran when she uses incendiary language like that? She will have little foreign credibility when she goes off on a tirade like that and we would never get out of Iraq because Iran would make sure Iraq will bleed us dry of dollars and soldiers. Bad, bad move, Hillary.

    April 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Uday

    If Hillary attacks Iran, will Bill and Chelsea go fight for America? They help her by talking a lot.

    April 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. OC FOR OBAMA

    This is not tough?! Tough is dealing with the grueling campaign. Tough is getting up each day to fight lobbyists and special interests.

    IT IS NOT TOUGH TO THREATEN TO NUKE AN ENTIRE COUNTRY THAT IS FULL OF INNOCENT PEOPLE JUST LIKE AMERICANS.

    HILLARY CLINTON MUST BE STOPPED.

    April 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. Ny, Toronto, Canada

    I hope she is not trying to prove that she is more macho than Bush.

    I think she is a dangerous hot head, not fit for a president.

    WWW III is awaiting the US, if she is elected president..

    April 22, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. spectator

    In the playground...I'll tell the big kids that I'll punch the dumb kid....just so they'll vote me into the group.

    April 22, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Israel, not Iran, is the country that has invaded neighbors and taken vast swaths of their land (hence the perennial Palestinian tragedy those poor people never asked for or deserve) and that refuses to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty and has built a huge nuclear arsenal. Iran has attacked NO nation in 400 years...so who is the aggressor here? And why should nuclear war be raged in order to protect them? The resulting vast cloud of nuclear fallout would endanger the whole world. Time to rethink our blind slavish loyalty to Israel until they abide by Resolution 242!

    April 22, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Lancesmother

    This is insane. I have no idea why people still believe in Hillary she is such a Chamelion. She changes colors, accents, attitudes, according to whose vote she is trying to snag. I just am not getting why people are not seeing through her. I agree it would be great to have a woman president, one who thought more like a woman and less like a woman trying to act like a MADMAN!!

    I could not believe what I heard coming out of her mouth, to "OBLITERATE" Iran. Kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, she is just another Bush only more manipulative.

    April 22, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
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