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Clinton: Iran, N. Korea pose gravest threats

WASHINGTON (JTA) — North Korea and Iran are the countries posing the gravest threats to U.S. interests, Hillary Rodham Clinton said.

The U.S. secretary of state was asked by CNN on Sunday which countries she thought posed the greatest threats to the United States.

"In terms of a country, obviously, a nuclear-armed country like North Korea or Iran pose both a real or a potential threat," she said, immediately clarifying that she did not believe Iran — unlike North Korean — was nuclear armed, but was close to it. She also qualified her response, saying that non-state terrorist networks pose a greater threat than countries.

Clinton referred to the recent revelation of a second uranium enrichment plant at Qom and Iran’s rejection of a compromise enrichment offer brokered through the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"We believe that their behavior certainly is evidence of their intentions," she said. "And how close they are may be the subject of some debate, but the failure to disclose the facility at Qom, the failure to accept what was a very reasonable offer by Russia, France and the U.S. through the IAEA to take their uranium, their low-enriched uranium and return it for their research reactor. I mean, there’s just — it’s like an old saying that if you see a turtle on a fencepost in the middle of the woods, he didn’t get there by accident, right? Somebody put him there. And so you draw conclusions from what you see Iran doing."

Clinton said President Obama’s policy of outreach to Iran and other nations succeeded in galvanizing international support for Iran’s isolation.

"Engagement was the first stage," she said. "We had to change the mind-set of not just leaders but of their populations. We are moving toward a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia, something that has been a high priority with us. We have reset our relationship. The Russians have been very positive in discussions about sanctions on Iran and on many other important matters. I’m not sure that would have been predicted a year ago." 

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