U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the only way Iran's government leaders will give up their nuclear weapons ambitions is if they decide that they will be less safe with nuclear weapons than without them.
"There are a number of different ways that kind of calculus could change in the Iranian mindset," Secretary Clinton told an audience at the University of Louisville: "For example, if the Iranians believe that by having nuclear weapons they will be able to intimidate their neighbors in the Gulf, they're mistaken; because those neighbors will either pursue nuclear weapons for themselves, further destabilizing the region, or they will be provided support from us to defend themselves against a nuclear-armed Iran."
Another factor is concerted and determined effort by the international community: "So if you're sitting in Iran and you see the absolute commitment of the international community to prevent this [nuclear arming] from happening, and actions are taken to interfere with your financing and banking system, to go after groups and individuals who play a role in the nuclear program, to figure out ways to try to impinge on your energy sector or your arms flow –- you begin to pay a cost. And I don't think Iran wants to be North Korea. They consider themselves a great culture and society going back to Persian times. They see themselves in a leadership role in the world."
Currently the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council along with Germany – the P5+1 - are meeting in New York to discuss potential new sanctions against Iran. Secretary Clinton believes the international isolation rigorous sanctions would cause would trigger "a real debate" within Iran.
The U.S. preference is to create conditions that will lead to changes in the policy of the Iranian Government toward the pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, said Secretary of State Clinton. "Their leadership says all the time, 'We have no intention of obtaining nuclear weapons,'" she noted. "It's just difficult to put all the facts together and square that with their stated intentions, so we're going to put them to the test."