Clinton avoided nuke question – student
AFP | February 22, 2010
“I did not get a straight answer,” Mariyam Alavi said in a letter published in Arab News on her question to the top US diplomat last Tuesday. “My question was simple and direct enough,” she wrote, but Ms Clinton’s response “was very unsatisfying.”
Alavi, a 12th grader at the International Indian School in Jeddah, attended the meeting at the elite Dar al-Hekma College with six classmates. She had asked Ms Clinton about Washington’s stance on the existence of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
If the Americans “so vehemently oppose Iran’s nuclear programme,” she had asked, “then why isn’t the US asking Israel to give up their nuclear weapons?”
Ms Clinton gave a lengthy answer detailing the US case against Iran, but did not mention Israel. She did, however, say that “we want not only a world free of nuclear weapons, we want a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, including everyone.”
Alavi’s Arab News letter assailed US “hypocrisy” over the issue, reflecting a widely held sentiment in in the region.
“Clinton said that the United States, under the able leadership of President Barack Obama, was trying to repair and strengthen its ties with the Muslim world.
“It is high time she realised it couldn’t be done without answering the questions uppermost in the minds of the Middle East people.”
Alavi said she had been nervous about asking such a “politically provocative question” but was then encouraged by strong applause from the audience when she addressed Ms Clinton.
Ms Clinton had been on a three-day trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia to discuss, among other things, how to confront Iran’s alleged programme to develop nuclear weapons.