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Hillary Clinton says US should not engage in nuclear talks with Iran as protestors stand up ‘to their oppressors’

<i>Mike Segar/Reuters</i><br/>former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Mike Segar/Reuters
former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

By Emmet Lyons, Ken Olshansky and Haley Britzky, CNN

The US should not be negotiating with Iran “on anything right now,” including a nuclear agreement, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

“I would not be negotiating with Iran on anything right now, including the nuclear agreement,” Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, adding that the horse is “out of the barn.”

“When [former President Donald] Trump pulled us out,” she said, “we lost the eyes that we had on what they were doing inside Iran. And I believe that they started those centrifuges spinning again.”

Discussions between the US and Iran on the 2015 nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, have been pushed to the sidelines since protests erupted across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish Iranian woman who was arrested by the morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab correctly.

In addition to Iranian authorities’ brutal crackdown on protesters, the US has also taken issue with the country’s cooperation with Russia during the war in Ukraine.

Officials from a Western country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program previously told CNN that Iran was preparing to send roughly 1,000 additional weapons, including more attack drones and short-range ballistic missiles, to Moscow to assist its invasion of Ukraine.

Both of those issues have brought chances of talks about the nuclear deal with Iran to a halt.

In October, Rob Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, said the US would not “waste our time” on nuclear talks with Iran and instead focus on issues “where we can be useful.” State Department spokesman Ned Price also said in October the administration’s focus “is on the remarkable bravery and courage that the Iranian people are exhibiting through their peaceful demonstrations, through their exercise of their universal right to freedom of assembly and to freedom of expression.”

Clinton emphasized her support for focusing on the protestors on Thursday, saying that the United States should not “look like we are seeking an agreement [with Iran] at a time when the people of Iran are standing up to their oppressors.”

“We are giving them hope and heart. I think we’re doing something else,” Clinton said. “We’re sending a message to whoever the few possibly concerned people are about what’s happening to the tens of thousands of Iranians being imprisoned, and the many hundreds who are being killed, that maybe they are willing inside to speak out. Not just within the government, but more importantly with the clerics to say that this is not sustainable.”

“You can’t premise a theocracy on covering up women’s hair. That doesn’t mean that we are going to overthrow the regime and they are going to leave peacefully,” Clinton told CNN.

“I’m hoping that there can be some kind of internal discussion that might lead to, you know, more freedom, but also less oppression,” she said.

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