ABC News’ Mary Bruce reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., defended this morning her comments that she would "obliterate" Iran if Iran ever attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.
"Why would I have any regrets?" she asked in an exclusive appearance on a special edition of "This Week" from Indianapolis, Ind. "I’m asked a question about what I would do if Iran attacked our ally, a country that many of us have a great deal of, you know, connection with and feeling for, for all kinds of reasons. And, yes, we would have massive retaliation against Iran.
"I don’t think they will do that, but I sure want to make it abundantly clear to them that they would face a tremendous cost if they did such a thing," she added.
Rival candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has said her comments are reflective of George W. Bush and could further harm America’s reputation abroad.
Clinton also responded to criticism that her comments would undermine Iranians seeking democracy and an alliance with the United States.
"The experts I consult with don’t say that," she explained. "We want to create some upward pressure that sends a very clear signal to the supreme leader and to Ahmadinejad and others, that going forward on nuclear weapons is not a free choice for Iran. And the very idea that they would translate into action some of the most outlandish comments that have been made by some of the Iranian leaders, and even contemplate wiping Israel off the face of the world, means that we’ve got to make it clear to them that will not go without massive retaliation."
Clinton has spoken out recently on the need to extend America’s nuclear deterrent to other countries in the Middle East. When asked who would fall under that "nuclear umbrella," Clinton said, "The theory that I’m putting forth is we have to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We have to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the region, because I’m not so concerned about them falling into the hands of states, which is bad enough, as I am about falling into the hands of terrorists."
The Democratic nominee also discussed the possibility of a nuclear arms race.
"If Iran continues to try to pursue a nuclear weapon, if you’re sitting in one of the other capitals in the Gulf region and in the wider Middle East, you’re not going to let Iran get that nuclear weapon. You’re going to have your own nuclear weapons race," she said. "We had a Cold War where each of us, the Soviet Union and the United States, had missiles on hair trigger alert aimed at the cities in our respective countries. And we deterred the nuclear conflagration that could have occurred by having tough diplomacy, by having presidents who really stood their ground."