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U.S. Presidential Hopefuls Clinton, Sanders Spar Over Iran, Russia

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over Iran and Russia in a February 4 debate.

The two U.S. Democratic candidates for president sparred over foreign policy during a debate February 4, and showed particularly sharp differences over Iran.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took issue with socialist Senator Bernie Sanders on restoring diplomatic relations with Tehran now that many economic sanctions have been lifted.

Clinton said Sanders is wrong to support normalizing relations with what she called a state sponsor of terrorism that is "destabilizing the region."

Normalizing relations immediately would remove one of the biggest levers the United States has to pry concessions from Iran in the future, she said. "You have to get action for action."

Sanders said he wouldn't restore relations "tomorrow" but would move toward them.

On Russia, Sanders dismissed assessments by the Obama administration that Moscow now poses a graver threat to U.S. security than any other nation.

Though he said he dislikes Russia's "military adventurism," he said North Korea poses a bigger threat, calling Korea "an isolated, paranoid country with atomic bombs" that makes it more dangerous than Russia or China.

Clinton said "NATO must do more for the common defense" against Russia.

The candidates agreed they do not want to see American ground troops deployed to fight in Iraq or Syria.

Based on reporting by AP and USA Today