Madam Secretary

Clinton: Nonproliferation and Iran to be key topics at U.N. session

Clinton: Nonproliferation and Iran to be key topics at U.N. session

Hillary Clinton, Sept. 18, 2009 | MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images 

I just returned from the Brookings Institution, where I heard Secretary Clinton deliver a speech previewing the United States’ priorities during next week’s U.N. General Assembly session.

Before diving into her speech though, Clinton remarked on President Obama’s announcement yesterday of changes in the U.S. missile defense program. She said the new system stemmed from a “lengthy and in-depth assessment” of the threats posed by Iran and is based on the United States’ “best understanding of Iran’s capability.”

The new system will “deploy sooner,” be “more comprehensive,” and have a “better capacity to protect.” Clinton said it will “deploy technology that’s actually proven” to work and “does what missile defense is actually supposed to do.” She added that criticisms of the new system are “not connected to the facts.”

Then Clinton delved into her official remarks. Nonproliferation of nuclear weapons will be the main topic that the United States will address next week. Clinton will lead the U.S. delegation to a conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the first time that a U.S. secretary of state has attended such a conference.

Another key topic for the United States next week will be Iran. The issue isn’t Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, she said. Rather, she firmly stressed, the problem is that for years Iran has not lived up to its responsibilities to demonstrate that its program is “exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

Clinton said that the United States’ past refusal to engage Iran had yielded no progress and added, “We remain ready to engage.” (Whether Iran is ready to engage on talking nukes, however, is an entirely different story.)

Some other tidbits:

Clinton said the United States and Iraq have entered a new, “more mature partnership.”

Clinton will be chairing a session on women, peace, and security at the U.N. General Assembly session. She said, “If women are free from violence and afforded their rights,” they can be “change agents.”

On corruption, Clinton said it was a “security problem,” not just a “good government concern.”

Finally, at the end, Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott asked Clinton about U.S. health-care reform. Clinton said, “We’re going to be successful,” but went on to say it “won’t be pretty.”

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images