Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Tehran must not gain the capability to produce a nuclear weapon, but asserted that while on the table, the possibility of a US military strike was a long way off.
“My own test is that Iran should not have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon,” Romney said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday. “I think that is the same test that Benjamin Netanyahu would also apply. I can’t speak for the president in this regard but there has to be a recognition that there are boundaries that the Iranians may not cross.”
Romney asserted that the US and Israel are of one mind when it comes to Iran.
“There is no daylight between the US and Israel,” he said. “We have coincidental interests, we share the same values, and we are both absolutely committed to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.
“Iran has to realize that they can’t play off one against the other. We are both committed to a world that doesn’t include a nuclear capable Iran,” he said.
However, Romney allowed that there is still “a long way to go before military action may be necessary.”
“And hopefully it is never necessary,” he added. “Hopefully through extremely tight sanctions and diplomatic action we can prevent Iran from taking a course that would lead to them crossing that line.”
By declaring that Iran must be stopped from becoming nuclear weapons capable, Romney made a significant move towards Netanyahu’s position as to when to act militarily against Iran. In the past, President Barack Obama, reluctant to place specific limitations on Tehran, has indicated that his red line was making sure Iran did not attain nuclear weapons.
Romney, who promised that his first foreign trip as president will be to Israel, reaffirmed the US military commitment to Israel but made it clear that as president, he would expect to be notified in advance of any action to be taken by Jerusalem.
“We have Israel’s back both at the UN and militarily,” he said. “I would anticipate if I were president, the actions of Israel would not come as a surprise to me.”
Despite his readiness for military action, Romney said that sanctions should be given a chance and he expects them to have a strong influence in deterring Iran from making a weapon.
“The crippling sanctions do have an impact on Iran’s economy right now,” he said. “They will have an impact on the public there. There is great hope and real prospects of dissuading Iran from taking a path that leads into a nuclear setting.”