By Elad Benari
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized his opponent,President Barack Obama, on Sunday, saying that Obama’s biggest failure is the way he dealt with Iran’s nuclear program.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press”, Romney responded to Obama’s remarks during his speech at the Democratic convention last week. Obama said that Romney and his running partner Paul Ryan were stuck “in a Cold War time warp.”
“Well, I can certainly look at his record and I think one can say that he’s had some successes and he’s had some failures,” said Romney, adding, “And perhaps the biggest failure is as it relates to the greatest threat that America faces and the world faces, which is the nuclear Iran. The president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear Iran and in fact Iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear capability than when he took office. This is the greatest failure, in my opinion, of his foreign policy. He ran for office saying he was going to meet with Ahmadinejad. He was going to meet with Castro, Kim Jong Il. All the world’s worst actors, without precondition, he’d meet with them in his first year.”
He added, “President Obama had a policy of engagement with Ahmadinejad. That policy has not worked and we’re closer to a nuclear weapon as a result of that. I will have a very different approach with regards to Iran. And it’s an approach which, by the way, the president’s finally getting closer to. It begins with crippling sanctions. That should have been put in place long ago.”
Romney acknowledged that the United States was “in some ways safer” because of Obama’s leadership, bringing as an example the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“I think Iran, however, becoming nuclear is a whole different development and a game changing, threatening development,” he said. “Threatening not only to our ally, Israel, but threatening the United States of America. And the president has not been successful. And in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, ‘Iran has not changed its nuclear course one iota by virtue of this president’s policies.’ And that’s something I intend to change.”
Asked whether he can live with a nuclear Iran and contain it, Romney responded, “I don’t think we live with a nuclear Iran. I think we make it very clear that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to the United States of America, to civilized nations throughout the world. And that we will maintain every option that’s available to us to keep that from happening.”
Host David Gregory asked Romney why he can succeed on Iran where two former presidents, Obama and Bush, could not. Romney responded, “Well, at the time President Bush was president, Iran was years away from a nuclear weapon. And he pursued diplomacy, as I can think we should continue to pursue diplomatic channels.
“We should pursue as well the kind of crippling sanctions that I’ve spoken about when I gave a speech at the Herzliya Conference five years ago,” he added. “We need to use every resource we have to dissuade them from their nuclear path. But that doesn’t mean that we would take off the table our military option. That’s something which certainly every American would hope we would never have to use. But we have to maintain it on the table or Iran will, undoubtedly, continue their treacherous course.”
Netanyahu said last week that the international community must set a “clear red line” in order to avoid a war over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
“This is a brutal regime that is racing ahead with its nuclear program because it doesn’t see a clear red line from the international community,” Netanyahu said at a meeting with Israeli and U.S. servicemen wounded in conflict.
He added, “And it doesn’t see the necessary resolve and determination from the international community. The greater the resolve and the clearer the red line, the less likely we’ll have conflict.”