Hillary Clinton called the landmark deal struck with Iran over its nuclear program “an important step” Tuesday, but said she still has concerns about Iran’s other “bad behavior.”
The careful statement to reporters came as Clinton visited Capitol Hill to meet with congressional Democrats. After her brief remarks, Clinton took no questions. She said she wanted to wait to be briefed and learn more about the deal before further weighing in.
Clinton said President Barack Obama called her late last night to alert her an agreement had been reached, she said, “I applaud him and both Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz for their extraordinary efforts in bringing about this conclusion.”
“Based on what I know now, and I will be being briefed as soon as I finish addressing you, this is an important step for putting a lid on Iran’s nuclear program,” she told reporters.
However, she was light on praise of the deal and did not explicitly say she supported it. “There will be a number of issues that have to be addressed,” the presidential candidate said, pointing to the need for the deal to be enforced “vigorously, relentlessly.”
“We still have a lot of concern about the bad behavior and actions by Iran,” she continued, pointing to is sponsorship of terror, its sabre rattling against Israel, and it’s imprisonment of Americans. “That bad behavior is something we have to address.”
Clinton said she would be consulting with other former secretaries of state and other foreign policy experts to learn more about the deal.
“So all in all, I think we have to look at this seriously, evaluate it carefully, but I believe based on what I know now, this is an important step,” she said.
The deal is fraught for Clinton. As a presidential candidate in 2008, she called Barack Obama “reckless and naïve” for saying he would meet with Iranians without preconditions and there many pro-Israel Democrats who oppose the deal. On the other hand, as secretary of state, she worked hard on the deal and actually helped initiate the negotiations.
In private meetings with House Democrats, however, Clinton seemed to strike a more positive note, calling it a “good deal” and saying it was worthy of Democrats’ support, New York Rep. Gerald Nadler said.
Two other lawmakers said Clinton expressed support for the deal.
As Clinton moved from the House to the Senate between meetings, Clinton was asked if she missed being in the Capitol. “No,” she said with a big laugh. But she added: “I really enjoyed being in the Senate. I really enjoyed seeing a lot of my former colleagues.”