Foreign Policy Blogs

“Defense Umbrella” against Iran

During her trip to Thailand, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has created quite a stir with her remarks on Iran.  In her harshest words delivered against Iran yet, Clinton warned that the United States would take “crippling action” and work to “upgrade the defense of our partners in the region.”  She warned Iran that the United States would extend a “defense umbrella” over its allies in the Persian Gulf if Iran did not cease its nuclear enrichment program.  She stated:

“We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those [allies] in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer.”

Her comments, however, did not assuage the fears of American allies in the region.  As reported in this Gulf News article, the Gulf countries saw her comments as an admission that the United States cannot stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Similar sentiments were expressed by Israel as reported in this Jerusalem Post article.

Clinton later clarified her comments stating that she is not suggesting a new policy, but pointing out that Iran would become less secure as a result of a nuclear program.

“I was simply pointing out that Iran needs to understand that its pursuit of nuclear weapons will not advance its security or achieve its goals of enhancing its power, both regionally and globally. For example, as the President and I have both said, the focus that Iran must have is that it faces the prospect, if it pursues nuclear weapons, of sparking an arms race in the region. That should affect the calculation of what Iran intends to do and what it believes is in its national security interest, because it may render Iran less secure, not more secure.”

But as this New York article points out that Clinton’s remark show that the administration is now thinking about how to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran.



Sahar Zubairy

Sahar Zubairy recently graduated from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas- Austin with Masters in Global Policy Studies. She graduated from Texas A&M University with Phi Beta Kappa honors in May 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. In Summer 2008, she was the Southwest Asia/Gulf Intern at the Henry L. Stimson Center, where she researched Iran and the Persian Gulf. She was also a member of a research team that helped develop a website investigating the possible effects of closure of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf by Iran.