MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ Former President Bill Clinton said Friday sanctions against Iran were working better than people think and questioned whether a military strike would work to end its nuclear program.
He argued that two-thirds of Iran's population wants a moderate government and that sanctions could have some influence on the nation's powerful clerics.
``We may not have to go to war, and we may not have a disaster,'' he told about 9,000 gathered at Kansas State University. ``You need to talk to everybody before you bomb them. In other words, if you're going to fight with somebody _ I don't care what you don't have in common _ you should talk first.''
The former president's comments answered audience questions following his 45-minute lecture. His remarks touched on a wide range of topics, including the need to improve health care and the economy in the United States and alleviate poverty abroad.
Officials from the United States and other major powers have been discussing imposing new sanctions against Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions in December, but the Bush administration hasn't ruled out military action.
``We should be talking to the Iranians,'' Clinton said. ``Attacking them is a whole different kettle of fish.''
He came to Kansas while his wife is campaigning, though he didn't mention her bid for his former job during his lecture.
Clinton questioned some of President Bush's policies, though he didn't criticize Bush directly.
He said the No Child Left Behind education reform initiative imposed too much testing and didn't do enough to help schools with problems. He echoed other Democrats' statements that ending violence in Iraq requires both a political and military solution.
He also cited a recent nuclear disarmament accord with North Korea, saying: ``I happen to think it's pretty good deal, and I was delighted to see it happen, but it was produced by diplomacy.''