WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton says she would enforce the nuclear agreement with Iran if elected president of the United States, and take action should Tehran violate the accord.
In a major address on the accord, the Democratic candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election said that she would take military action should Iran move to obtain nuclear weapons.
"As president, I will take whatever actions are necessary to protect the United States and our allies. I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon," she said in a September 9 speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Iran denies accusations it is seeking to secretly develop or obtain a nuclear weapon.
Clinton, the Democratic Party's current frontrunner and former U.S. secretary of state, said she understands the widespread skepticism about Iran, which has agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
"I, too, am deeply concerned about Iranian aggression and the need to confront it. It's a ruthless, brutal regime that has the blood of Americans, many others, including its own people's, on its hands," she said, vowing to stand up against Iran's human rights abuses at home.
Clinton added, "There's absolutely no reason to trust Iran."
She said the deal reached in July between Tehran and major world powers blocks every pathway for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons while giving the United States "better tools" for verifications and inspections.
Clinton delivered her speech a day before the U.S. Congress is set to begin debating the agreement. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has already secured enough pledges of support in the U.S. Senate to prevent lawmakers from derailing the accord.
"By now, the outcome in Congress is no longer in much doubt. So we've got to start looking ahead to what comes next: enforcing the deal, deterring Iran and its proxies, and strengthening our allies," Clinton said.
She also said the deal must be enforced with "vigor and vigilance," and be embedded in a broad strategy to confront Iran's "bad behavior" in the region.
"This is not the start of some larger diplomatic opening," she said.
Clinton said that her approach with Iran would be "distrust and verify."
"We should anticipate that Iran will test the next president. They'll want to see how far they can bend the rules," she said.
Clinton added, "That won't work if I'm in the White House."
Opponents of the deal, led by Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz (Republican-Texas), held a rally later on September 9 on Capitol Hill to protest the agreement.
"We are led by very, very stupid people," Trump said.
Former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was among the speakers at the rally attended by several hundred opponents who held signs calling the deal a "bad" agreement.
One man carried a handwritten sign that said: "No nukes for Iran terrorists."