From NBC's Libby Leist
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped just short of saying that the Obama administration's outreach toward Iran has been a failure.
"I don't think anyone can doubt that our outreach has produced very little in terms of any kind of positive respones from the Iranians," she said in a news conference today with Spain's foreign minister.
She also signaled that a push for sanctions may be coming soon.
Clinton called on the Iranian government to free the three American hikers "as soon as possible" and she called the charges against them "unfounded."
"With respect to the three hikers -- we consider this a totally unfounded charge," Clinton said. "There is no basis for it. The three young people who were detained by the Iranians have absolutely no connection with any kind of action against the Iranian state or government. In fact, they were out hiking and unfortunately, apparently, allegedly, walked across an unmarked boundary. We appeal to the Iranian leadership to release these three young people and free them as soon as possible."
Clinton was also asked about reports that Iran is testing a trigger for a nuclear bomb and she said she would not comment on any intelligence.
As far as how the treatment of the hikers may effect U.S. efforts to engage Iran on their nuclear program, Clinton said U.S. concerns "have been heightened already" in recent months, with the exposure of the Qom nuclear facility, Iran's apparent backpeddaling on its initial agreement to ship its low enriched uranium out of the country for reprocessing and its recent announcement that it intends to build 10 to 20 more nuclear plants.
These developments "should raise deep concerns among all people," Clinton told reporters.