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December 10, 2007

Senator Clinton says “many of us believe that,” the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are proliferators of mass destruction and turned attention to Edwards and Obama

The following question was asked at the NPR debates (transcript):

Senator Clinton, as some of your opponents have noted, in September you voted on a resolution involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which, among other things, called them proliferators of mass destruction. In view of this latest intelligence estimate, which says Iran's nuclear program was stopped in 2003, do you believe that's still true?

When Clinton failed to answer the question directly, moderator Steve Inskeep said, “Forgive me,” and reiterated the question, “are the Revolutionary Guards proliferators of mass destruction?”

Clinton responded,

Well, many of us believe that. You know, earlier this year, Senator Edwards told an audience in Israel that the nuclear threat from Iran was the greatest threat to our generation. Back in 2004, Senator Obama told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board that he would even consider nuke — surgical strikes by missiles to take out Iran's nuclear capacity. So there was a very broadly based belief that they were pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Edwards responded in disagreement, though never addressing his comment to the Israeli audience, and said,

…It was important for us to stand up because what Bush and Cheney did after the vote in the Senate is they declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

Obama contended that Clinton took his quote out of context,

…what I was specifically asked about was if Iran was developing nuclear weapons, how could we respond? And in those situations, what I said is we should keep options on the table. But what I've been consistent about was … that we needed to oppose George Bush again.

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