Romney pledges to stop Iranian nuclear capability

In major foreign policy speech, Romney accuses Obama of placing "daylight" between US, Israel; Pew poll: Romney leads Obama.

October 9, 2012 01:40
2 minute read.
Romney delivers major foreign policy speech

Romney delivers major foreign policy speech 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)


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WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged Monday to stop Iran before it reaches nuclear weapons capability, an earlier benchmark than that generally specified by the Obama administration.

In a major foreign policy speech delivered in Virginia devoted almost entirely to the Middle East, Romney also promised not to allow any daylight between Israel and the United States and to recommit to fostering peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

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Romney’s speech, however, was largely composed of critiques of rival US President Barack Obama. He charged that “hope is not a strategy” and argued that the threats American faces in the Middle East are greater now than when Obama took office. He particularly pledged to lead with strength.

Romney repeatedly attacked Obama on Iran, referring to Tehran’s marked increase in uranium enrichment and other aspects of what the West sees as a drive for nuclear weapons under Obama’s watch.

“Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability,” Romney said.

“And it has never acted less deterred by America.”

If elected president, Romney declared, “I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.” He called for tougher sanctions and stationing more aircraft carrier task forces in the region.

Romney also said he would increase military aid and coordination to Israel, reaffirming the ties between the two countries in place of the “great strains” he said had arisen between Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

He also took Obama to task for comments he made to Jewish leaders early in his administration, in which he told them that the lack of daylight between the US and Israel hadn’t brought peace under former president George W. Bush and suggested that a different approach might be necessary to advance the peace process.

Romney countered: “The world must never see any daylight between our two nations.”

Asked about Obama’s daylight comments, which were confirmed by participants in the closed meeting but never stated publicly by the president, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to “read out” the meeting.

But Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under Bill Clinton and participated with LaBolt in an Obama campaign conference call with media following Romney’s speech, stressed the close ties between the US and Israel and how much the US had bolstered Israeli security assistance under Obama.

She also slammed Romney for a “flip-flop” on the peace process.

On Monday, the Republican nominee lambasted Obama for having “failed” in peace-making and vowed to “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.” Those words contrast with what he said to donors at a closed-door fundraiser in May caught on tape, in which he said that no progress could be made on the issue.

Albright charged, “He obviously doesn’t track even the things he himself says.”

In his speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney also called for arming the Syrian opposition and conditioning aid to Egypt more strictly.

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