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Clinton Discussed Use of Nukes Last Year

By BETH FOUHY
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 9, 2007; 6:42 PM

NEW YORK -- Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who chastised rival Barack Obama for ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in the war on terror, did just that when asked about Iran a year ago.

"I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table," she said in April 2006.

Her views expressed while she was gearing up for a presidential run stand in conflict with her comments this month regarding Obama, who faced heavy criticism from leaders of both parties, including Clinton, after saying it would be "a profound mistake" to deploy nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table," he said.

Clinton, who has tried to cast her rival as too inexperienced for the job of commander in chief, said of Obama's stance on Pakistan: "I don't believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons."

But that's exactly what she did in an interview with Bloomberg Television in April 2006. The New York senator, a member of the Armed Services committee, was asked about reports that the Bush administration was considering military intervention _ possibly even a nuclear strike _ to prevent Iran from escalating its nuclear program.

"I have said publicly no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table," Clinton said. "This administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven't seen since the dawn of a nuclear age. I think that's a terrible mistake."

Clinton's views on the potential use of nuclear weapons appear to have changed since then.

Her campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, said the circumstances for her remarks last year were different than the situation Obama faced.

"She was asked to respond to specific reports that the Bush-Cheney administration was actively considering nuclear strikes on Iran even as it refused to engage diplomatically," he said. "She wasn't talking about a broad hypothetical nor was she speaking as a presidential candidate. Given the saber-rattling that was coming from the Bush White House at the time, it was totally appropriate and necessary to respond to that report and call it the wrong policy."

But another Democratic contender, Chris Dodd, issued a statement Thursday saying he was disappointed to learn of Clinton's "unwise" statements.

"If nothing else, these kinds of careless statements expose the difference in the candidates' depth of experience and understanding when it comes to the complex world of foreign policy and military affairs," said the Connecticut senator.

Polls show Dodd, a longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, trailing both Clinton and Obama.

© 2007 The Associated Press