In an interview with CNN last week, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said, as president, he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have the same test for Iran over its purported development of a nuclear weapons program. “We share values [with Israel], and we’re both absolutely committed to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” Romney said. “My own test is that Iran should not have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon. I think that’s the same test that Benjamin Netanyahu would also apply.”
During his address to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Netanyahu insisted that the international community draw a “clear red line” in Iran’s path to obtaining nuclear weapon capability. Crossing that line would mean military intervention.Holding up a picture of a bomb and drawing a line below the fuse, the Israeli prime minister said, “a red line should be drawn right here, before Iran completes a second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb, before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.”
The Iranian ambassador to the U.N. called Netanyahu’s remarks “entirely baseless.”
Netanyahu has warned that vows to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons such as the ones made by the Obama administration were not enough, and that the threshold to a strike on Iran should be set at an earlier point.
Though Netanyahu has no plans to publicly endorse President Obama or Gov. Romney in the upcoming election, a TV advertisement featuring Netanyahu that aired last month in the key swing state of Florida was interpreted by many as an endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor. “The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs,” he says in the spot. “The world tells Israel, wait there’s still time. And I say, wait for what? Wait until when?” Netanyahu made the remarks on September 11th in Jerusalem shortly after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would not be “setting deadlines” for Iran, though it would be “watching very carefully about what they do, because it’s always been more about their actions and their words.”
If Israel were to launch a military strike, Romney said, “the actions of Israel would not come as a surprise to me.” Romney’s website devotes a whole page to how he would handle the stalemate in Iran if elected president. “Mitt Romney believes that it is unacceptable for Iran to possess nuclear weapons capability,” the site reads. “Should Iran obtain such capability, the entire geostrategic landscape of the Middle East would tilt in favor of the ayatollahs. A nuclear-capable Iran will pose an existential threat to Israel, whose security is a vital U.S. national interest. As Iran’s ballistic missile capacity improves, it will endanger Europe and eventually the continental United States. It will provoke an arms race in which the Arab nations themselves forge ahead with nuclear programs of their own. The result will be a nightmarish cascade of nuclear tensions in the worst’s most volatile region. Iran’s sponsorship of international terrorism would take on a new and terrifying dimension.”
Romney and Netanyahu have been friends since the 1970s when both worked at the Boston Consulting Group. In July, Romney visited Israel with his chief political backer, Sheldon Adelson, and was warmly welcomed by Netanyahu.