The Cable

Clinton: “Sanctions can work”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to make the argument for multilateral sanctions against Iran today, another sign of the administration’s changing rhetoric on Iran in anticipation of a shift toward the "pressure track" early next year. Answering questions following her bilateral meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos today, she characterized the announcement ...

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to make the argument for multilateral sanctions against Iran today, another sign of the administration’s changing rhetoric on Iran in anticipation of a shift toward the "pressure track" early next year.

Answering questions following her bilateral meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos today, she characterized the announcement that North Korea was caught shipping 35 tons of banned weapons through Thailand as a success for the multilateral sanctions regime.

"I think the actions by the Thai government to detain the plane that is apparently carrying significant amounts of weapons demonstrates the importance of international solidarity behind the sanctions that were adopted at the United Nations earlier this year. It shows sanctions can work. It shows that sanctions can prevent the proliferation of weapons. And it shows that the international community, when it stands together, can make a very strong statement regarding what we expect from a state like North Korea," Clinton said.

Of course, the weapons seizure isn’t good news for those who saw a thawing in relations with North Korea following the trip there by Amb. Stephen Bosworth last week. But Clinton said that the DPRK was liable to continue to try to violate the weapons export ban imposed by U.N. Security Council resolution 1874.

She also couldn’t resist spinning the news into a call to allied countries for cooperation with the U.S. in enforcing whatever Iran sanctions might be put forth.

"We were very pleased to see the strong action taken by the Thais. And it would not have been possible without strong action of the United Nations, and I think there’s a lesson there for people around the world to see when it comes to Iran," she said.

Interestingly, the two bills moving through Congress this week are focused on unilateral sanctions that have international consequences. For example, the Iran sanctions legislations sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-CT, would punish international corporations that export refined petroleum products to Iran, but would allow the president to waive those measures for countries and companies that support the U.S. sanctions.

The administration sent a letter Friday to Senators asking them to hold that bill until the new year. The administration is said to be negotiating with Dodd and others so that cooperating countries and companies would be automatically exempt from penalties as to not require a presidential waiver.

A House bill focused on refined petroleum products to Iran, led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, D-CA, is expected to be passed this week.

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