WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- In a statement released by Hillary Clinton's campaign, 10 former diplomats and and national security officials denounced Bernie Sanders' proposal that the United States normalize relations with Iran.
"These are complex and challenging times, and we need a Commander in Chief who knows how to protect America and our allies and advance our interests and values around the world," the statement said. "The stakes are high. And we are concerned that Senator Sanders has not thought through these crucial national security issues that can have profound consequences for our security."
Sanders' position is also a break with the White House. Politico reported White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes reiterated the administration's stance on Friday, saying that President Obama will not try to establish diplomatic relations with Iran.
"We are all strong supporters of the nuclear diplomacy with Iran. Some of us were part of developing the policy that produced the diplomacy over the past several years," the statement said. "And we believe that there are areas for further cooperation under the right circumstances. But Senator Sanders' call to 'move aggressively' to normalize relations with Iran — to develop a 'warm' relationship — breaks with President Obama, is out of step with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that has been working for the United States, and if pursued would fail while causing consternation among our allies and partners."
The statement called on Sanders to clarify his positions Russia, China, U.S. allies and nuclear proliferation. "We need a Commander in Chief who sees how all of these dynamics fit together — someone who sees the whole chessboard, as Hillary Clinton does."
The statement was signed by Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff to the CIA director and defense secretary; Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former under secretary of state for political affairs; Rand Beers, deputy homeland security adviser; Daniel Benjamin, former coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department; Nicholas Burns, former under secretary of state for political affairs; Derek Chollet, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs; Kathleen Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy; retired Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick, former deputy national security adviser; James Miller, former under secretary of defense for policy; and Julianne Smith, former deputy national security adviser to the vice president.