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January 31, 2013

Inhofe renews criticism of Hagel

(Continued)

WASHINGTON D.C. —

Responding specifically to attacks from outside GOP-leaning groups, Hagel repeated his regrets about using the term “Jewish lobby” to refer to pro-Israel groups. He said he should have used another term.
“I should have used another term and I’m sorry and I regret it,” Hagel said. “On the use of intimidation, I should have used ‘influence,’ I think would have been more appropriate.”
Hagel said he was committed to Obama’s goal of ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon, and insisted that all options, including military force, are on the table.
“My policy is one of prevention, and not one of containment — and the president has made clear that is the policy of our government,” Hagel said.
Under questioning, Hagel said he always supported multilateral sanctions against Iran, but acknowledged that he cast votes against unilateral sanctions on a case-by-case basis. He argued that in some cases, such as votes in 2001-2002, he was taking into account the concerns of Republican President George W. Bush.
He also countered with votes and letters against Iran and Hezbollah.
“There’s a more complete record than just one or two or three or four” votes, Hagel said, insisting that he has been on the record many times saying Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations and Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism.
He also expressed support for maintaining a strong, modern nuclear arsenal, a position that has been challenged because of his support for the Global Zero organization’s recommendation of nuclear cuts.
“We are not going to unilaterally disarm,” Hagel said.
The hearing was the first time Hagel publicly addresses the criticism that he is not sufficiently pro-Israel or tough enough on Iran. In the past, Hagel has questioned the efficacy of unilateral sanctions on Iran, arguing that penalties in conjunction with international partners made more sense.

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