Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is facing fire for claiming credit for tough sanctions on Iran, something her State Department once opposed.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the American Jewish Committee Global Forum May 14, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Alex Wong)
“I worked for months to round up the votes [in the United Nations Security Council],” Clinton said Wednesday speaking to the American Jewish Committee in Washington. “In the end we were successful … and then building on the framework established by the Security Council, with the help of Congress, the Obama administration imposed some of the most stringent, crippling sanctions on top of the international ones.”
“We went after Iran’s oil industry, banks, and weapons programs, enlisted insurance firms, shipping lines, energy companies, financial institutions and others to cut Iran off from global commerce,” she continued. “Most of all, I made it my personal mission to convince the consumers of Iran’s oil to diversify their supplies and buy less from Iran.”
But as ABC News reported that in 2012, the Obama administration openly opposed the increased Iran sanctions bill by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
At the time, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told Foreign Policy magazine: “As we focus with our partners on effectively implementing these efforts, we believe additional authorities now threaten to undercut these efforts.”
“Secretary Clinton’s comments are a blatant revision of history,” Kirk told ABC. “The fact is the Obama administration has opposed sanctions against Iran led by Senator Menendez and me every step of the way.”
The Obama administration is currently engaged in talks with the Iranian governmet over its nuclear program. Other administration officials have said that it was the tough sanctions that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table.
For Clinton, considered the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, the critique on Iran policy ties into a longstanding criticism of vacillating on controversial issues.
The Daily Beast reported that “her own State Department—in conjunction with the rest of the Obama administration—often worked hard against many of the measures she’s now championing.”
Congress passed a number of sanctions bills between 2009 and 2011, some of which the administration sought to tweak.
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman publicly expressed “strong opposition” to the Menendez-Kirk bill, arguing that it would upset allies by exposing them to penalties if they don't cut their Iranian oil imports, the Daily Beast reported.
Top Clinton deputy Bill Burns personally urged senators in a meeting to drop the matter, but he wasn't persuasive: The Senate ultimately passed the sanctions on Iran's Central Bank 100-0.
Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it was Congress, not the administration that pushed the tough sanctions.
“I take comments from administration officials saying they were so involved in this as a compliment. It was Congress who pushed this on a bipartisan basis,” Corker said, according to the Daily Beast. “Let’s face it. You saw the public pushback from the administration. People can say what they wish, but there’s no way we would be where are today without Congress’s actions.”
(H/T: ABC News)