Hillary Clinton Nomination Hearings To Be Secretary of State, 13 January 2009
Testimony Secretary of State-Designate Hillary Rodham Clinton Senate Foreign Relations Committee Washington, DC, 13 January 2009.
SENATOR KERRY: ...
In the age of catastrophic terrorism, it is also urgent -- and I know Senator Lugar joins me in expressing this -- urgent that we restore America's leadership on nonproliferation. Whatever our differences, we must reengage with Russia on nuclear security, specifically the START treaty. It is my hope that we will embrace deep, reciprocal cuts in our nuclear arsenals. And I'm eager to hear Senator Clinton's thoughts on this matter. Consistent with our security needs, I believe we should set a goal of no more than 1,000 deployed warheads. And that goal should be just the beginning. We should also lay the groundwork for ratification of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.
SENATOR LUGAR: ...
I would highlight several other points to which I hope the Secretary will give very high priority, in addition to the ongoing crises that will press for her attention.
First, it is vital that the START treaty with Russia be renewed. When the Senate gave its consent to ratification to the Moscow Treaty in 2002, it did so knowing that the United States could rely on START treaty's verification regime. It provides important assurances to both sides. At the time, this Committee was assured that extension of START was a very high priority. Unfortunately, little progress has been made and the treaty will expire in 11 months. In other words, the conceptual underpinning of our strategic relationship with Russia depends upon something that is about to expire. Such an outcome will be seen as weakening the international nonproliferation regime....
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: ...
And Senator Lugar, I look forward to working with you on a wide range of issues, especially those of greatest concern to you, including the Nunn-Lugar initiative...
Now, in 2009, the clear lesson of the last 20 years is that we must both combat the threats and seize the opportunities of our interdependence. And to be effective in doing so, we must build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries. America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America.
The best way to advance America's interests in reducing global threats and seizing global opportunities is to design and implement global solutions. That isn't a philosophical point. This is our reality. The President-elect and I believe that foreign policy must be based on a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology, on facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice. Our security, our vitality, and our ability to lead in today's world oblige us to recognize the overwhelming fact of our interdependence.
I believe that American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted. We must use what has been called "smart power," the full range of tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural -- picking the right tool or combination of tools for each situation. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of our foreign policy. This is not a radical idea. The ancient Roman poet Terence declared that in every endeavor, "The seemly course for wise men is to try persuasion first." The same truth binds wise women, as well.
I assure you that if I am confirmed, the State Department will be firing on all cylinders to provide forward-thinking, sustained diplomacy in every part of the world, applying pressure wherever it may be needed, but also looking for opportunities, exerting leverage, cooperating with our military and other agencies of government, partnering with nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and international organizations, using modern technologies for public outreach, empowering negotiators who can protect our interests while understanding those of our negotiating partners. Diplomacy is hard work. But when we work hard, diplomacy can work, not just to defuse tensions, but to achieve results that advance our security interests and values...
President-elect Obama has emphasized that the State Department must be fully empowered and funded to confront multidimensional challenges from thwarting terrorism to spreading health and prosperity in places of human suffering. And I will speak in greater detail about that in a moment.
We should also use the United Nations and other institutions whenever possible and appropriate. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have understood that these institutions, when they work well, enhance our influence. And when they don't work well, as in the cases of Darfur and the farce of Sudan's election, with the former UN Commission on Human Rights, we should work with likeminded friends to make them more effective.
We will lead with diplomacy because that's a smart approach. But we also know that military force will sometimes be necessary, and we will rely on it to protect our people and our interests when and where needed as a last resort. All the while, we must remember that to promote our interests around the world, America must be an exemplar of our values. Senator Isaacson made the point to me the other day that our nation must lead by example, rather than edict.
Our history has shown that we are most effective when we see the harmony between our interests abroad and our values at home. Our first Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson subscribed to that view, reminding us across the centuries: "The interests of a nation when well understood will be found to coincide with their moral duties."...
First, President-elect Obama is committed to responsibly ending the war in Iraq, and employing a broad strategy in Afghanistan that reduces threats to our safety and enhances the prospects of stability and peace. Right now, our men and women in uniform, our diplomats, and our aid workers are risking their lives in these two countries. They have done everything we have asked of them and more.
But over time, our larger interests will be best served by safely and responsibly withdrawing our troops from Iraq, supporting a transition to full Iraqi responsibility for their sovereign nation, rebuilding our overtaxed military, and reaching out to other nations to help stabilize the region and employ a broader arsenal of tools to fight terrorism. We will use all the elements of our power -- diplomacy, development, and defense -- to work with those in Afghanistan and Pakistan who want to root out Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other violent extremists who threaten them, as well as us, in what President-elect Obama has called the central front in the fight against terrorism.
As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, we must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate, political, and economic aspirations of the Palestinians that effectively challenges Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and its sponsorship of terror, and persuades both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behavior and become constructive regional actors; and that also strengthens our relationship with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, along with Turkey and our partners in the Gulf, to involve them in securing a lasting peace in the region.
As intractable as the Middle East problems may seem -- and many Presidents, including my husband, have spent years trying to work out a resolution -- we cannot give up on peace. The President-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets. However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian cost of conflict in the Middle East, and pain by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. This must only increase our determination to seek a just and lasting peace agreement that brings real security to Israel, normal and positive relations with its neighbors, independence, economic progress, and security to the Palestinians in their own state.
We will exert every effort to support the work of Israelis and Palestinians who seek that result. It is critical, not only to the parties involved, but to undermining the forces of alienation and violent extremism around the world.
For terrorism, we must have a comprehensive strategy, levering intelligence, diplomacy, and military assets to defeat al-Qaida and other terrorist groups by rooting out their networks and drying up their support for violence and nihilistic extremism. The gravest threat that America faces is the danger that weapons of mass destruction will fall into the hands of terrorists. We must curb the spread and use of these weapons -- nuclear, biological, chemical, or cyber -- and prevent the development and use of dangerous new weapons.
Therefore, while defending against the threat of the terrorism, we will also seize the parallel opportunity to get America back in the business of engaging other nations to reduce nuclear stockpiles. The Nonproliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime, and the United States must exercise leadership needed to shore it up.
So we will seek agreements with Russia to secure further reductions in weapons under START. We will work with this committee and the Senate toward ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and we will dedicate efforts to revive negotiations on a verifiable, fissile material cut-off treaty.
At the same time, we will continue to work to prevent proliferation in North Korea and Iran, to secure loose nuclear weapons and materials, and to shut down the market for selling them, as Senator Lugar has pushed for so many years.
These threats, however, cannot be addressed in isolation. Smart power requires reaching out to both friends and adversaries to bolster old alliances and to forge new ones. That means strengthening the alliances that have stood the test of time, especially with our NATO partners and our allies in Asia. Our alliance with Japan is a cornerstone of American policy in Asia, essential to maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region, and based on shared values and mutual interests...
SENATOR KERRY: ...
So we'll start the clock running on a 10-minute series of questions...
Obviously, one of the most pressing issues we face, and it was underscored in The New York Times on Sunday, is the question of Iran's nuclear program, and the entire relationship with Iran which was, needless to say, a subject of discussion throughout the campaign. The time when Iran is going to be capable of producing enough weapons-grade uranium to build a bomb, if they choose to, is very fast approaching. The clock is ticking, and yet Iran continues to defy the UN resolutions, enriching more uranium to reactor-grade levels, installing and operating more and more centrifuges, failing to address the concerns of inspectors, and so forth. And recent efforts to get tough, as you know, failed with respect to the UN Security Council. So I would ask you -- during the campaign, President-elect Obama said that he would employ -- quote -- "big carrots and big sticks," to deal with Iran's nuclear program. We do know that there's a significant package of incentives already on the table from the P-5+1, and the prospect of increased Security Council sanctions may be questionable, at best. So could you share with us the thinking at this stage? I know it's early, but can you share with us what additional carrots the administration might have in mind? Why do you believe those might be enough to change Iran's calculations? Are tougher sanctions achievable, and how are you and the administration viewing this at this point?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And obviously, the incoming administration views with great concern the role that Iran is playing in the world, its sponsorship of terrorism, its continuing interference with the functioning of other governments, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons. There is an ongoing policy review that the Obama administration has undertaken, but I think as the President-elect said just this past weekend, our goal will be to do everything we can, pursue through diplomacy, through the use of sanctions, through creating better coalitions with countries that we believe also have a big stake in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon power, to try to prevent this from occurring. We are not taking any option off the table, at all. But we will pursue a new, perhaps different approach that will become a cornerstone of what the Obama administration believes is an attitude towards engagement that might bear fruit.
We have no illusions, Mr. Chairman, that even with a new administration
looking to try to engage Iran in a way that might influence its behavior
that we can predict the results. But the President-elect is committed
to that course, and we will pursue it.
SENATOR KERRY: Do you believe that tougher UN sanctions are
available from which to choose? And secondly, are they achievable?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: You know, it's kind of like the experimenters bias, in a way. We won't know what we're capable of achieving until we're actually there working on it. We have a commitment to engaging with international organizations in a very intense and ongoing way. We are going to be working with our friends and our adversaries in the United Nations. We're going to be making the case to members of the Security Council who have been either dubious or unwilling to cooperate up until now that a nuclear, armed Iran is in no one's interests, under any circumstances.
So Mr. Chairman, it's hard to predict how successful we will be, but
I promise you our very best efforts in doing all that we can to try
to achieve greater international support for sanctions and actions that
could actually influence the behavior of the Iranian Government, the
Supreme Leader and the religious council and the Revolutionary Guard
and the Qods Force because, as you know so well, all of these are players.
And so our task will be to try to figure out the appropriate and effective
pressure that will perhaps lead to us dissuading Iran from going forward.
SENATOR KERRY: Well, I happen to agree with you that it is,
in fact, legitimately impossible to be able to determine exactly what
options are available until you begin to get into a conversation and
begin to see what the play is. But as a matter of fundamental American
policy, let me ask you a question: Is -- is it the policy of the incoming
administration as a bottom line of our security interests and our policy
that it is unacceptable that Iran has a weapon under any circumstances,
and that we will take any steps necessary to prevent that? Or is there
-- is it simply not desirable -- I think, as you've said, it's in no
one's interest, which is less than an affirmation of prohibition?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, Mr. President -- the President-elect,
Mr. Chairman --
SENATOR KERRY: I'll take that. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY-DESINATE CLINTON: It was a Freudian slip. The President-elect
SENATOR KERRY: We're both subject to those, I want you to know.
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Indeed, on this subject, especially. The President-elect has said repeatedly it is unacceptable. It is going to be United States policy to pursue diplomacy with all of its multitudinous tools to do everything we can to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.
As I also said, no option is off the table. The President-elect has
been very clear that it is unacceptable, and that is our premise and
that is what we are going to be basing our actions on.
SENATOR KERRY: The Bush Administration sent Undersecretary Burns
to the last round of those talks, essentially as an observer. Do you
plan to send a U.S. representative to engage directly in those kinds
of discussions almost immediately?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, Mr. Chairman, we are looking
at a range of possibilities. One very important aspect of the decisions
we make is that we engage in consultation with our friends in the region,
and beyond. We don't want anything I say today or anything the President-elect
says to take our friends and allies by surprise. So we cannot tell you
with specificity exactly the steps we will take. But I think it's fair
to say that the President-elect, as recently as this weekend, has said
that we're going to be trying new approaches, because what we've tried
has not worked. They are closer to nuclear weapons capacity today than
they were. So we're going to be looking broadly, but in consultation.
And I want to underscore that, because it's very important that those
who have to live in the region, many of whom are our allies, Israel
and others who have a legitimate set of concerns about Iran's growing
power and its use of that power, should know that the Obama administration
will be consulting broadly and deeply so that when we move, we will
move in concert insofar as possible.
SENATOR KERRY: Do you plan personally to engage in personal
diplomacy with Iranian officials at a high level in the near term?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, again, Mr. Chairman, I want
to wait to determine the exact contours of how we proceed until we're
actually in office and have a chance to consult with others, because
it is very clear to me that we have not as full a brief as we need on
the feelings of many of the important players. We have carefully hued
to the President-elect's position. There's one president at a time.
We have not spoken with foreign leaders. We have not, in many instances,
taken their calls because we want to be very respectful of the ongoing
work of the Bush Administration. As soon as we are in a position to
do so, we will be consulting and we will be setting force a series of
actions and we will be consulting and informing this Committee.
SENATOR KERRY: Well, I know you've been very careful about that,
and I think it's been appropriate and I think a wise course, and I look
forward to you being able to get deeply engaged.
Last question, just quickly: Last year, six colleagues and I, including
Senator Levin, wrote to Secretary Rice, urging her to establish an interests
section in Tehran. It just seems counterproductive and almost incomprehensible
that we're not on the ground in some of these places. We don't have
an ambassador in Syria, for instance. We should. So I would ask you
if you have made a decision and will there be -- will you proceed forward
to create an interests section in Tehran and immediately put an ambassador
back in Syria?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Again, Mr. Chairman, these are
matters that are part of our policy review, and we will turn to them
with, you know, great diligence and attention as soon as we are able
SENATOR KERRY: Well, I hope the question establishes some sense of --
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: (Laughter.)
SENATOR KERRY: -- priority.
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: I think I got your drift, Mr. Chairman....
SENATOR LUGAR: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Senator Clinton, when the Albanians informed the United States in the summer of 2004, they saw some suspicious drones above Toronto. And some of us went over there and found nerve gas and MANPAD missiles in sheds and what have you, and we're grateful to the Albanians seeking that assistance. This was the first opportunity for the Nunn-Lugar act to go outside of Russia and the former states that comprise the former Soviet Union. I mention this because it created quite a problem bureaucratically. I had to get Secretary Powell's signature on a piece of paper and take another piece to the President himself to eradicate the situation. But when Senator Obama first came to the Committee, we traveled to Russia and the Ukraine, saw additional MANPAD missiles and, in fact, a whole acreage of weapons that were very dangerous, although not weapons of mass destruction. And we secured Senate assistance in passing the Proliferation Security Initiative and other bills.
I bring all this to your attention because despite all this legislative effort, there has been no translation of this into increased financial or leadership commitment in the State Department. Admittedly, budget constraints, problems of organization in the Department, but nevertheless, all of this became almost individual diplomacy, rather than a concerted effort by our country. And the problem now is that we have found that there are dangerous pathogens and disease repositories in other countries in need of WMD proliferation prevention assistance.
Can you describe, even in these early days of your study at this, what sort of an effort under your leadership, the State Department may be able to offer to begin to do those things which are clearly diplomatic; that is, to open up conversations with other countries, to work with the Defense Department, of course, the Department of Energy, others who have interests in this, but in which, thus far, the State Department has been either a reluctant or an almost nonexistent partner?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, Senator Lugar, I don't think there is a more important issue that confronts the incoming administration. And your leadership and inspiration with respect to arms control and especially nonproliferation, and the efforts to contain and destroy loose nukes and other material and now moving into the pathogen area, which is particularly dangerous, is a great example to me of what we should be doing.
It won't surprise you to know that in my transition review of the Department, it became clear that the arms control and nonproliferation functions had been significantly degraded. There was a difference of opinion within this current administration as to whether such an effort is worthwhile, whether it pays off, whether it's, you know, just spinning wheels.
You know, I heard, you know, someone in the administration previously say, well, you know, we don't need these agreements because, you know, good people don't need them and bad people won't follow them. And so the infrastructure for being able to back you up when you went to Albania was severely undermined. We intend to build it even more robustly. I am seeking arms control and nonproliferation experts to come back into the Department. This is one of the passionate concerns of the President-elect who, I think under your tutelage, understands very much the threats that we face.
So I believe, Senator, that you will find a very willing and active partner in these efforts. I remember when I met with you, looking at the pictures that you have displayed in your conference rooms of all of the various trips you've made, looking for this material, seeing it finally destroyed. And you know better than I, how much more work lies ahead. And unfortunately, the bad guys are always at it. They're always going to be testing us.
So to that end, we will have a very strong commitment to the START treaty negotiations. We want to get out of the box early. We want Russia to know that we are serious. I take to heart what the Chairman said about trying to reduce our numbers even lower. This incoming president, like all presidents, has been committed to the end of nuclear weapons, as long as we can be assured that we have adequate deterrence and that we are protected going forward. So we're going to enter it with that frame of mind, which is quite a change.
In the nonproliferation area, I want to do everything I can, working with you, working with former Senator Nunn, to see what authorities we need, how we can better beef them up, how we can better fund them; use this occasion even to invite some of the technical experts and others who have left the government over the last eight years to reenlist. Because it is true that you could make the case that bad actors won't follow agreements. You can look at North Korea, you can look at Iran. But I think those should be the exception and not the rule. There should be a rules-based framework for arms control and nonproliferation that if the United States, once again, leads and constructs that architecture, we will be in a stronger position to isolate the bad actors.
So I hope, Senator, that you will take my remarks as the invitation they're meant to be for collaboration, not just consultation, as we rebuild this function, staff it, and fund it appropriately.
SENATOR LUGAR: Well, this is very good news. And in a visit that I had with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia and Mr. Kiriyenko of Rosatom in mid-December -- I know they will welcome your words today. There certainly have been some doubts on the Russian side as to where we were, and the time is wasting, and so your leadership will be very much appreciated.
Let me pursue a second line of questioning. At the Riga NATO summit in 2006, I gave a speech suggesting that Article 5 of NATO was violated just as severely when someone cut off natural gas and thus plunged a country either into the cold in the middle of the winter where people would die and the industry would founder, as when tanks and aircraft and what have you come across the border.
Behind the scenes, foreign ministers said, of course, you're right, but we don't talk about this publicly; we tried to deal behind the barn as best we can with an intractable situation. Now, we are still in the process of coming out of another crisis of this variety. The United States has fostered the Nabucco pipeline as a prospect of helping either our NATO partners or our EU partners, if Europeans prefer to deal with the EU in this problem. But the fact is Europeans have not dealt with it very positively the prospects for some grid underneath Europe in which natural gas or other power might be spread has been very halting because of nationalistic boundaries.
Now, on occasion, you have a feeling we are more worried about the Europeans' energy problems than some of them are. I ask you this because this is a major diplomatic problem -- our working with the NATO allies, with the EU, with the energy community, in general. But I also come to ask if you agree that, if we do not solve this problem, at some point, our NATO allies are going to be rendered, if not impotent, at least in a position in which the NATO alliance is weakened severely and perhaps the EU likewise, with the new members especially feeling acute pain and watching Georgia feeling a real problem in terms of their physical existence.
Would you make a comment on this proposition?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, Senator Lugar, I think, once again, you're demonstrating your farsighted, realistic understanding of security threats, because I agree with you. I think we have learned the hard way that the OPEC cartel is not just a commercial enterprise, but a security geopolitical strategic effort that we have had to contend with now for, you know, 36 years. As you know, Russia is attempting to create a gas equivalent of OPEC that would give it, in addition to the bilateral powers it has, a much greater multilateral international reach on gas.
So this whole question of energy security, I think, has enormous implications for our country, for Europe, but indeed, for the entire world. I'm also aware that you authored a provision in the last energy bill to have a coordinator on these energy security issues in the State Department. I intend to fulfill that.
SENATOR LUGAR: Great.
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: We've had individual envoys on specific pipeline issues, but we haven't brought it all together in a way that I think reflects the elevated seriousness of the challenges that are being posed.
Specifically with respect to Russia and its interactions with Ukraine, Georgia, other European countries, its recent purchase of the Serbian gas utility, I hope we can make progress with our friends in NATO and the EU to understand that we do need a broader framework in which we can talk about energy security issues. It may or may not be Article 5, but I think it certainly is a significant security challenge that we ignore at our peril. So I will look again for advice and consultation, ideas you might have. We will be going to Europe in the due course on foreign ministers meetings, on the NATO anniversary meeting. This should be on the agenda, and I hope that we can find willing partners to make it so....
SENATOR MURKOWSKI: ...
One more question, another that Alaskans look to with great interest because of our proximity to North Korea. As we look to the hot spots in the world, we certainly appreciate all of the other threats that you will be dealing with as Secretary of State. But you kind of get most nervous about those that are more proximate to you, and North Korea is certainly to us. In that vein, what do you see the future of the Six-Party Talks under your tenure? How do you anticipate that you'll be able to, whether it's jumpstart the process or -- how do you see that moving forward?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Senator, I've had several lengthy conversations with Secretary Rice who has brought me up to date on the status of the Six-Party Talks. It is a framework that the President-elect and I believe has merit. But it also provides an opportunity, as Secretary Rice has testified before this Committee, for bilateral contact as well between North Korea and the United States. Again, this is under review. We're looking at all of the record of the negotiation up to this date.
Our goal is to end the North Korean nuclear programs, both the plutonium reprocessing program and the highly enriched uranium program, which there is reason to believe exist, although never quite verified. And it is our strong belief that the Six-Party Talks, particularly the role that China is currently playing, along with our close allies South Korea and Japan, is a vehicle for us to exert pressure on North Korea in a way that is more likely to alter their behavior. Again, I have no illusions about that. I think it takes tough reality-based diplomacy to determine what is doable. We have got to end North Korea as a proliferator. There is certainly reason to believe that North Korea has been involved with Syrian efforts. We know that it was involved with Libyan efforts.
So it's not only preventing the threat from North Korea, which is of particular interest to Hawaii, Alaska, and the West Coast of the United States, but it is their role as a proliferator. So we will embark upon a very aggressive effort to try to determine the best way forward to achieve our objectives with them....
SENATOR DEMINT: ...
One last concern. I think one difficulty that you will have is balancing protecting our sovereignty as a nation with international cooperation. I've seen some of our agreements with the United Nations. The United States is going to bear the brunt of the expense and often the execution of what is the UN promises. They don't back up their own resolutions, as in Iraq, or now in Iran, North Korea. We submit and we comply and yield, in many ways, our decision making to organizations like the United Nations, but then we're left holding the bag with what they don't do.
And maybe in just the minute or so that I have left, how can we do a better job of being cooperative, at the same time, protecting our sovereignty?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, I think the absolute bottom line for any agreement or undertaking by the United States Government is that it has to be, in our view, in the best interests of the United States.
SENATOR DEMINT: Right.
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: That it furthers our national security, advances our interests, and both protects and reflects our values. That's how I see my responsibility. I think there are ways that we can cooperate more than we have without, in any way, impinging upon our sovereignty, our identity, or our security interests or values....
SENATOR ISAKSON: ...
I believe that your -- the better your diplomacy, the better your ability to defend yourself. And a strong military is a great foundation for good diplomacy. And then, if you add the development, which I think is soft power or smart power, you have a great trilogy. Do you agree with that?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Senator Isakson, I couldn't say it any better. I certainly do agree. In order to protect and defend the United States of America, to advance our interests and to further our values, we have to have all three of those elements of our power working in concert. But clearly, as I said -- as you pointed out -- in my opening statement, a strong military is essential for the ultimate protection of our country and our interests.
It is my hope that, through more vigorous and effective diplomacy, we would be able to resolve both problems that we have with individual countries and the transnational problems like proliferation that threaten all of us.
And so, I think that the State Department has a very big responsibility to improve its capacity, with respect to both diplomacy and development. Because without those two elements of our power projection and our policy being as effective as they can be, we're not going to have the agile, comprehensive foreign policy we should look forward to....
SENATOR CASEY: ...
I wanted to move to one or two more issues before my time expires. One is on an issue that I have worked with Senator Lugar on -- the ranking member -- as well as other members of this Committee have worked for years -- Senator Biden worked hard on this, as well as others -- and that's the challenge imposed by nuclear terrorism. As great as the challenge and the threat is, we know from our history and from our research that it is a preventable catastrophe, if we take the right steps, not just here, but around the world.
And I just want to get your thoughts on the steps we need to take, which will involve a number of departments of our federal government, but the State Department, under your leadership, will play a significant role in working with other countries to identify fissile material and prevent it from getting into the hands of the wrong people.
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, Senator Casey, I know you expressed to me your deep concern about this and your desire to get very involved in helping us craft an effective approach to protecting our country and our allies, and indeed, humanity from weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists.
The recent commission on WMD, chaired by former Senators Graham and Talent, was very sobering. Basically, they concluded that the evidence points to our seeing a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological material some time in the next four years. You add to that the growing threat of cyber terrorism, which has the potential of disrupting the networks we rely on for all kinds of things like traffic signals and electric grids and the like, which would be incredibly disruptive and dangerous, I mean, this is the number one threat we face. There is no doubt in my mind.
So, we are going to start calling it such. We are going to reorganize the Department to be better prepared to deal with non-proliferation, arms control, and these new threats. I look forward to working closely with this Committee to get the best people we can into the State Department to work with our partners across the United States Government, and to send out a message loudly and clearly that the United States wants to be a leader, once again, to control arms, particularly with Russia -- and that's what the START talks will be aimed at doing -- and to be much more aggressive in going after non-proliferation. So, this is our very highest priority, because the consequences are so devastating.
SENATOR CASEY: And one more question in the time I have.
We spoke a little bit the other day about: the challenge that Pakistan presents to all of us -- to the American people, but also to the world -- and for a lot of reasons, we know, not only because of the threat in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the concern about the rivalry -- and that's an understatement -- with India; and the question of whether this government will really take a -- make it a priority to root out the extremist elements that are throughout different parts of Pakistan and the region; and, finally, the nuclear -- the concern about the stability of their nuclear command and control.
Coming into the office -- and I realize you're just starting, but what -- how do you think we need to approach it, from the State Department's point of view, and in meeting those -- or being focused on those various concerns that I just outlined?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, as I stated in my opening remarks, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East remain in the forefront of the challenges that the new administration will face.
Pakistan has a particular complexity because of its nuclear weapons capacity. But the democratically elected government has been saying a lot of the right things, with respect to the threat posed by the extremists and terrorists, particularly along the border and in the FATA region in Pakistan.
So, I'm hopeful that we will have a very active, positive relationship with the new Pakistan Government. I know that there's a lot of work being done, even by the outgoing administration, to deepen ties between our country and various institutions in Pakistan.
But this is a tough problem, Senator. I mean, this is a very complicated problem. It has many dimensions to it: as you pointed out, the relationship with India; the relationship with Afghanistan; the role that Iran and others are playing in that region. We have to approach this with the same level of attention and comprehensive understanding that our military is attempting to do as it ramps up our troop commitments in Afghanistan, and works more closely with the government of Pakistan to protect them from violent extremists, as well as to root out al-Qaida and other remnants of the terrorist networks, so that they don't find safe haven in Pakistan to plan attacks against us or any other country....
SENATOR WEBB: ...
The third is a reexamination of the way that we have proceeded with NATO expansion. I did a lot of work in NATO when I was assistant secretary of defense. And, quite frankly, this isn't the NATO that I was working with. And I am very concerned about the transition from, essentially, alliances into a number of protectorates in these newer countries. And it's a situation that makes our country, I believe, very vulnerable....
SENATOR WEBB: Well, thank you. And our military does great things, and I think you and I both feel strongly about that. We just want to make sure that it does the right things. And when I look at the NATO situation right now, it's -- increasingly, the United States is viewed as the military guarantor to these new protectorates that, essentially, in historical terms, that we brought into the fold, while the older countries of NATO are reestablishing their traditional historic relationships with Central and Eastern Europe, and there's nothing wrong with that. But it is troublesome when we are simply viewed as the military side of it....
SENATOR BARRASSO: ... And the second question they'll ask is -- when you come is about management reform at the United Nations, and the money that American taxpayers are spending there. And you -- if you have some thoughts on that.
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Yes. Well, this is another priority of the President-elect, and I know you'll be speaking with the permanent representative to the U.N. designee in a day or two. The UN must reform. It has to be more transparent, more efficient, and we are going to press for those kinds of changes.
At the same time, the United States has to be a good partner with the UN so that if we use the UN as we do for peacekeeping or other actions that we believe are in the best interests of the United States as well as the United Nations, we're going to have to bear our burden. So this is really a two-track commitment. We've got to work with our -- our partners at the United Nations, as well as the permanent bureaucracy there to do everything we can to try to streamline the operations, modernize the systems, make them more transparent. And then we have to be sure we do our part so we don't lose credibility as we push that reform agenda.
SENATOR BARRASSO: The -- moving on to Iran, and I know you've addressed it, reading your article on Foreign Affairs. You said: If Iran is, in fact, willing to end its nuclear program, renounce sponsorship of terrorism, support Middle Easy peace and play a constructive role in stabilizing Iraq, the United States should be prepared to offer Iran a carefully calibrated package of incentives. Do you have a clear path in your mind of how to get from where we are today where Iran appears to be continuing toward the development of nuclear weapons, continues to spew forth hatred of Israel, to get to a point where -- where these things would apply? And how do we do that from here?
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, Senator, there is a policy review that is being undertaken by the incoming administration. We are still being briefed by the outgoing administration. We don't yet have a full picture of all of the information that the current administration has within its control. So we will be working together, across government lines, through the national security team to devise a new approach. The President-elect called for such a new approach just over the weekend in some interviews that he did, and we are very open to, you know, looking to find a positive, effective way of engaging Iran.
However, as I said to the Chairman, a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable to the United States. It is our job to persuade other countries that it should not be acceptable to them either, to consult with our friends and allies in the Gulf who have as much or more at stake than anyone, and certainly with Israel, that views a nuclear-armed Iran as a grave threat, so that as we move forward with any new approach or effort at engagement, we are bringing our friends and allies along with us, we are not surprising anybody.
Because Iran, with its litany of terrorist sponsorship and interference with other countries' internal affairs, and certainly the role that it has played destructively, from our view, in Iraq, and so much else, as you know, is a concern, not just to the United States and Israel. It's a deep concern to many other nations. And so, we want as broad a base as possible as we try to devise a way forward....
SENATOR BARRASSO: Okay. I appreciated some of the comments you made earlier about the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and working with that, and I know you are working with Senator Lugar there, and others on the committee. You spoke strongly about verification and ongoing monitoring provisions, to make sure that that continues.
I wonder in these treaties about differentials, in terms of what the United States gives up and others give up for us to agree to get signatures on that. Could you talk a little bit about that, and what standards we will hold other countries, and how we make sure that their understanding is the same as our understanding?
SECRETARY DESIGNATE CLINTON: Well, I think that's a very good point. You know, the history of arms control with first the Soviet Union and then Russia, I think it's fair to say -- and, of course, Senator Lugar is the expert on this -- has been a history of success, by and large. Even in the midst of the Cold War, there were negotiations that led to arms control agreements. And certainly it is our hope that the United States can once again be a leader on reducing the number of warheads and the threat of nuclear war, making sure that we have no remnants of Cold War command-and-control issues and the like.
We are very serious about negotiating and are willing to go lower, so long as the Russians are as well, and that the deterrent that we have we always believe is adequate. We won't really know, Senator, until we get into these negotiations, but they're going to be on a fast track, because the START agreement, as you know, expires at the end of this year. So we have got to get serious and get involved, and we will have a negotiator named so that we can start almost immediately....
Source: US Department of State, www.state.gov.