Andrea Mitchell: Iran an Ally Before 'Axis of Evil' Speech in 2002

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 05:45 PM

By Greg Richter

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The troubles America currently faces with Iran can be traced to President George W. Bush's post-9/11 State of the Union speech in which he included the country in an "axis of evil," says MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell.

Mitchell was reflecting Monday on impactful State of the Union addresses as President Barack Obama prepares to address Congress and the nation Tuesday night. In 2002, Bush referred to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the "axis of evil."

Until that point, Mitchell said, Iran had been cooperating with the United States on the border of Afghanistan and "was more or less an American ally."

But when the Iranian government saw itself included in the axis of evil, it turned in "a completely different direction," she said. "And it was a turning point in American politics and foreign policy."

Story continues below video.


Mitchell blasted Bush and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell for allowing the line to stay in the speech.

"With all due respect, Colin Powell did not focus enough on those words and get them taken out of the State of the Union," Mitchell said. As a reporter covering the speech, Mitchell said she called the control room as soon as the line was uttered and said, "This is a big deal."

The speech likely turned America in a different direction on foreign policy, she said.

The United States is currently trying to hammer out a permanent deal with Iran that would limit the country's nuclear ambitions. A six-month temporary deal took effect Jan. 20, but Iranian officials have said they have not agreed to dismantle any of its nuclear facilities as the White House has said.

Oil-rich Iran says its nuclear intentions are only for power generation, but it has enriched uranium so far to 20 percent. An enrichment level of 5 percent is all that is needed for a nuclear power-generating plant.

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