Iran complains to U.N. about Clinton comment

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran complained to the United Nations on Wednesday about U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s comment the United States could “totally obliterate” Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) campaigns at Duneland Falls Steel Workers Local Union Hall in Portage, Indiana, April 30, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress

Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council expressing Iran’s condemnation of “such a provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible statement.”

Clinton made the remarks last week while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. The New York senator said she wanted to make clear to Tehran what she was prepared to do if she becomes president in the hope that this warning would deter any Iranian nuclear attack against the Jewish state.

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel),” Clinton said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them,” she said.

“That’s a terrible thing to say but those people who run Iran need to understand that because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic,” Clinton said.

Iran, which Washington and its allies charge is seeking nuclear arms, has voiced war-like rhetoric in recent years amid speculation its nuclear facilities could face U.S. or Israeli military action.

Tehran denies it is trying to acquire nuclear weapons and says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but, as part of a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” has not confirmed or denied the nature of its arsenal.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outraged the international community in 2005 by saying “Israel should be wiped off the map.”

In the letter dated April 30, Deputy Ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi said he wanted to reiterate Iran’s rejection of all weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons.

“Moreover, I wish to reiterate my government’s position that the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention to attack any other nations,” he said. “Nonetheless .... Iran would not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack against the Iranian nation and to take appropriate defensive measures to protect itself.”

Editing by Chris Wilson