Clinton's WikiLeaks alchemy: Can she turn outrage into unity on Iran?
Secretary Clinton is in the Persian Gulf to limit damage over the WikiLeaks disclosures. Can she translate the revelations into increased international resolve against Iran's nuclear program?
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was practicing a bit of “lemons-to-lemonade” diplomacy in Bahrain Friday, recasting the week’s WikiLeaks revelation of Arab pressure on the US to bomb Iran as above all a sign of international unity against Iran’s nuclear program.Skip to next paragraph
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“The policy of the United States [rejecting Iranian development of a nuclear weapon] is reflected in the policies of every country in this region but for Iran,” Secretary Clinton said at a joint news conference in Manama with Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa. “I think it is fair to say there is no debate in the international community.”
Clinton made her comments in the midst of a four-country trip through Central Asia and the Persian Gulf this week that has sought to limit the damage from the release Sunday of more than 250,000 State Department cables.
Among the most explosive were communications quoting several Middle East leaders, including the kings of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, who pressed the US to act militarily against Iran’s nuclear installations before it is too late – in other words, before Iran develops a bomb. Sunni Arab concerns over Shiite Iran’s nuclear program were already well known, but the outright calls for military action revealed pressure of a different magnitude.
Clinton’s stop in Bahrain – and her efforts to divert attention away from the WikiLeaks revelations and toward international unity against Iran’s nuclear efforts – comes just days before world powers are scheduled to sit down again with Iran to try to resolve differences over Tehran’s uranium enrichment program.
Diplomats from six powers – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – plan to meet with their Iranian counterparts in Geneva for two days of talks. The last such talks ended abruptly in October of last year when Iran's leaders rejected a draft accord on uranium enrichment that the country’s diplomats had negotiated.