Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Iran has an "elected" government, echoing a comment for which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was pilloried in his confirmation hearing last month.
"Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations," Kerry said in France standing alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world."
The comment is similar to what Hagel said on Jan. 31 when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee Iran was "an elected, legitimate government, whether we agree or not."
Some might beg to differ with that assessment.
The 2009 election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was widely suspected to be rigged. His challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi said so at the time and Iran saw days of unrest after Ahmadinejad was proclaimed to have secured 63 percent of the vote.
Vice President Joe Biden said on Meet the Press "there's some real doubt" whether Ahmadinejad won. "There's an awful lot of questions about how this election was run," he said. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at the time, "I think there are a number of factors that give us some concern about what we've seen."
Hagel had to walk back his declaration that Iran was "an elected, legitimate government" after being challenged in the hearing by Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
"I can understand if you meant it's a legal entity that has international relations and has diplomatic relations, that is a member of the UN, I do not see Iran or the Iranian government as a legitimate government, and I'd like your thoughts on that," Gillibrand said.
"What I meant to say, should have said, it's recognizable," Hagel replied. "It's been recognized, is recognized at the United Nations. Most of our allies have embassies there. That is what I should have said."
JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.