Her blunt message about avoiding a nuclear arms race that Saudi Arabia might join was meant for a wider audience but its delivery by one of the West's best-known professional women made a more subtle point.
Clinton ticked off a list of Iranian actions that she said violated its obligation not to pursue nuclear weapons, including construction of the Qom enrichment facility that came to light last fall.
"You have to ask yourself, 'Why are they doing this?'" Clinton said.
Noting that Iran insists it is not pursuing the bomb, she said, "The evidence doesn't support that."
"Everyone who I speak with in the Gulf, including the leaders here and leaders elsewhere in the region, are expressing deep concern about Iran's intentions," she said.
The approximately 500 students at an all-woman college in Jeddah called Dar al-Hekma, which translates in English to "House of Wisdom, were all dressed in long black abayas. Some wore blue jeans underneath. Several dozen men also attended the address by invitation.
Clinton warned of unintended consequences if Iran's behavior sets off a nuclear arms race.
"Then you have all kinds of opportunity for problems that can be quite dangerous," she said.
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