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Nuclear capable Iran an "extraordinary threat: Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said today that a nuclear-armed Iran is "going to spark an arms race" in the Middle East.

world Updated: May 20, 2009 23:43 IST

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said today that a nuclear-armed Iran is "going to spark an arms race" in the Middle East.

In an appearance before a Senate Appropriations panel, Clinton reiterated that the Obama administration opposes Iran getting a nuclear weapons capability and that it is relying for now on diplomatic pressure to stop it.

Amid reports that Iran has conducted a missile test, Clinton said that a wide array of threats, including attempts by terrorists to obtain nuclear weapons, represent a "daunting" challenge for the United States.

Clinton also described a nuclear capability in Tehran as an "extraordinary threat," and said the US goal is "to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program."

The secretary said she did not expect there would be any significant progress in getting Iran to enter into discussions on incentives to abandon a nuclear program at a time when there is a campaign there for the presidency.

"Our goal is to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program," Clinton told the Senate panel.

She said that while there is a lot of discussion about timetables, "the goal is the same: a nuclear armed Iran with a deliverable weapon system is going to spark an arms race in the Middle East" and the greater region.