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June 28, 2007

Bill Richardson On Iran

I am convinced that a concerted diplomatic effort, backed up by tough sanctions, undertaken with our international partners and grounded in bipartisan cooperation at home, stands an excellent chance of persuading Iran to forego nuclear weapons and to adopt more responsible policies.

I also believe that we must talk to the Iranians with no preconditions. For too long, the Bush administration lectured the Iranian leadership on what it had to do before we would talk directly with them. This policy was counterproductive, and I am pleased that Secretary Rice is now starting to break this ice. Refusing to engage Iran diplomatically prevented us from making headway on issues vital to our national security, including not only nuclear weapons, but also Iraq, energy security, and Middle East peace.

Let me be clear: talking without preconditions does not mean backing off one inch over fundamental objectives, such as insuring that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons.

But preventing Iran from going nuclear will require strong diplomacy backed up credible power and clarity of purpose. It also will take realism: we must remember that no nation has ever been forced to renounce nukes -- but many have been persuaded to do so with a combination of carrots and sticks.

We need to approach Iran with both fierce determination and with open eyes. The key is to make them see that they will be better off and more secure without nukes than with them. If we unite the world behind the right carrots and sticks, and provide the Iranians with face-saving ways to step back from the nuclear brink, we will prevail.

- from a speech at the Center for National Policy, June 27, 2007

Read the full text of Sen. Richardson's Speech here. (MS Word 56k)


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