(CNN) – As Mitt Romney gets ready to depart London for Israel this weekend, the presumptive GOP nominee reaffirmed his position Thursday that military force would be an option, though only as a last resort, in trying to prevent Iran from building its suspected nuclear weapons program.
“We will employ every means short of military power,” Romney said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “We recognize that if all means are exhausted and fail, a military option will have to be considered.”
Despite recent sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, Iran has refused to strike a deal in diplomatic talks this summer that would ease international concerns about its nuclear fuel program. Meanwhile, some analysts have speculated a military strike by Israel could be on the horizon.
Describing a nuclear Iran as “the greatest threat to the world,” Romney said U.S. military intervention “is by far the least attractive option, but it should not be ruled out.”
Romney also told Haaretz the issue is one area where both he and his presidential rival agree: “President Obama has said that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. I feel a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. The term ‘unacceptable’ continues to have a meaning: It suggests that all options will be employed to prevent that outcome.”
In fact, the president has maintained all year that military options would be on the table. In March, Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby group, that "all elements of American power" remain an option to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, including "a military effort to be prepared for any contingency."
At the same time, however, the president made clear that he preferred diplomacy over war both as a principle and in the case of Iran, and he warned that "too much loose talk of war" with Iran only benefits the Iranian government by driving up the price of oil.
While Romney repeatedly declined to comment any further on the president in Thursday’s interview, he didn’t hold back last month in launching criticism of Obama’s handling of Iran.
"This president has communicated in some respects that he might even be more worried about Israel taking direct military action than he is about Iran becoming nuclear," Romney said on CBS News. "That's the opinion of some who watch this."
At the time, Obama's team hit back, saying in a statement that Romney was trying to "score cheap political points by distorting President Obama's record of support for Israel."
- CNN’s Tom Cohen contributed to this report.