July 29th, 2012
01:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney talks tough on Iran

Jerusalem (CNN) - Warning that a nuclear-capable Iran would lead to war, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Sunday pledged to support “any and all measures” to keep Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

During what his campaign billed as a major foreign policy speech in Jerusalem, Romney said he hoped economic and diplomatic steps would deter the Islamic republic from pursuing the ability to develop nuclear weapons - but “no option should be excluded.”

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“It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war,” he said. “The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers. History teaches with force and clarity that when the world's most despotic regimes secure the world's most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war.”

Standing with the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem as a backdrop, Romney said the Iranian clerical leadership is “testing our moral defenses.” But he added, “We recognize Israel's right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you.”

"My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: We will not look away, and nor will my country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel," he said on a day that included meetings with Israeli leaders expressing concern about Iran.

Romney also referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a matter on which the United States has long kept its policy intentionally vague.

"It's a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel," Romney said, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.

Jerusalem is among the “final status” issues left to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future independent state. A U.S. law passed in 1995 designates Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and stipulates the American embassy should move to the city from Tel Aviv. The past three presidents, however, have signed waivers suspending the law, citing security and diplomatic concerns.

The muscular speech comes after a bruising week for Romney, who irked British leaders when he appeared to question London's readiness to host the Olympic Games. Romney aides have barely touched on the diplomatic controversy since leaving London.

Among those attending the speech included wealthy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who donated $10 million to a pro-Romney super PAC, despite backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the GOP primaries. Asked what he thought of the speech, Adelson gave a thumbs-up.

Without explicitly criticizing President Barack Obama on foreign soil, Romney also attempted to draw contrasts with Obama's foreign policy.

"With much of Middle East in tumult, with Iran bent on nuclear arms, America's vocal and demonstrated commitment to the defense of Israel is even more critical. Whenever security of Israel most in doubt - America's commitment to Israel must be most secure," he said.

In a briefing with reporters Sunday morning, Dan Senor, Romney's foreign policy spokesman, said Romney is not advocating war with Iran, only making clear what the options are should diplomacy fail.

"The governor believes that at this point, the only thing that could focus and force the minds of the Iranian leadership on ending their nuclear weapons, their path to a nuclear weapons capability, is the belief that the alternative is far worse," Senor said.

In a sign the White House is keeping close tabs on Romney's overseas trip, an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, is reporting the Obama administration has informed Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a "contingency plan" to attack Iran should the nation develop nuclear weapons.

The Iran threat, along with the all-but-dead Middle East peace process, and the growing instability in Syria are among the expected topics Romney will address in closed-door meetings with Netanyahu and other Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

During a brief photo opportunity, Netanyahu seconded Romney's tough talk on the Iranian regime.

"Mitt, I couldn't agree with you more," Netanyahu said.

"We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota. And that's why I believe that we need a strong and credible military threat coupled with the sanctions to have a chance to change that situation," he added.

The Israeli prime minister also acknowledged his decades-long friendship with Romney that dates back to when the two young men worked for a Boston consulting firm in the 1970's. "We were so young then. And for some reason, you still look young," Netanyahu remarked.

"We do have a friendship which spans the years," Romney added.

The exchange of pleasantries stood as a stark contrast with the cool relationship between Netanyahu and Obama.

Later Sunday, Romney also discussed the situation in front of reporters with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who warned against Iran becoming a nuclear power and argued the country "wants to dominate the Middle East."

While he agreed with the U.S. decision to impose harsh economic sanctions against Iran, Peres said "in order to make it serious," it needs to be clear "that all other options are on the table."

In addition to Peres and Netanyahu, Romney met with Kadima Party Leader Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Before his speech, Romney also sat down for a series of interviews with U.S. broadcast and cable networks, including CNN.

In the morning briefing with reporters, Senor explained Romney supports a "two-state solution" for both Israelis and Palestinians in securing a path to peace in the Middle East.

But Senor added Palestinians and other Arab nations would have to understand such a resolution "represents the end of the conflict."

"There should be no right of return," Senor said.

"This is not a platform for new Palestinian refugees down the road to return to Israel. If there is a Palestinian state, that should be the home for Palestinians wanting to return to this region."

Filed under: 2012 • Benjamin Netanyahu • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. gurgyl

    funny idiots...drama

    July 29, 2012 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  2. Sarah

    Great. He's not even President yet, and he's trying to get us into new wars.

    July 29, 2012 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  3. proudmemberofglobalzero

    Okay, this guy scares the hell out of me. I have family that has lived in Israel for 40 years. They don't support this action either. We cannot afford another war. We cannot continue to kill in the Middle East. ENOUGH!!!

    July 29, 2012 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  4. Donkey Party

    Romney's saber rattling serves no useful purpose at all. What's even more disgusting is his willingness to send all of your kids to war, but none of his own. The Romney family is a bunch of cowards.

    July 29, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |

    Mitt(I have nothing to offer)McCain is a loose cannon. The unhinged GOBP need to bring him home.

    July 29, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  6. javanese

    romney b careful not to endanger israelis.

    July 29, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  7. bear

    Maybe one of sons could volunteer since all our troops have been deployed enough,then again they are too rich to serve with "commoners' or as Ann Romney said "you people".

    July 29, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  8. philhuggins

    Romney stated while in London, that it wouldn't be appropriate for him to comment on foreign policy and that was the job of the POTUS.

    July 29, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  9. drek

    so he's running on the platform that he'll start world war 3..smooth...Mitt...real smooth!

    July 29, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  10. cptObvious

    Romney is a foreign policy disaster waiting to happen.

    July 29, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  11. philhuggins

    July 26, 2012

    “I don't want to refer to any comments made by leaders representing other nations. Nor do I want to describe foreign-policy positions I might have while I'm on foreign soil,” Romney told reporters when asked about what he discussed in a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron. “I think discussions of foreign policy should be made by the president and the current administration, not by those that are seeking office.”

    July 29, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  12. Benjamin Andrew Carroll

    Exactly which country does he think he's running to be the President of?

    July 29, 2012 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  13. Vincent

    An unmistakable warning to Iran?
    Lets hope its only just a reaffirmation of the alliance with Israel and not a declaration of war.

    Irregardless, the campaign rhetoric from both candidates (particularly the GOP representatives) is just as bad as Irans own rhetoric from its politicians. Hopefuly people on both sides recognize this and dont drag us all into a war we dont need, and cant really afford.

    July 29, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  14. Jim

    War drums are beating for Iran

    July 29, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  15. Steve

    What about Pakistan, or India who have the bomb now, or the next country to make a bomb after Iran? Do we promise war against them, too? What if a country we like makes a bomb, then changes leaders and becomes a country we dislike? Do we declare war?

    I don't want Iran to get a bomb, either. But making foreign policy and even taking steps to establish a kind of doctrine should be based on long-term national interests, not a short term interest in winning an election.

    July 29, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  16. Dan

    How Brave of him.

    July 29, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  17. JWR

    Will any of Mitt's 5 sons be involved in this future "war"?

    July 29, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  18. carly

    This clown will get us into another war.

    July 29, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  19. vietvet6869

    The 'hero" mitt, and his 5 "hero" sons ready to sacrifice the lives and bodies of the 99%'s children and grandchildren,boys and GIRLS!, the little people, so to speak,the American peasants, in order to make himself appear courageous. He and his sons had many opportunities to be courageous, but they would rather do it with someone else's blood while they profit from the sacrifices of men and women far braver than they will ever be.

    July 29, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  20. ihtsham

    Evils again thinking of war, bloodshed and gift of another Iraq to the world. Everyone should slam such Satanic Governments. No one have right to attack others.

    July 29, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  21. Steve C

    So just who the hell does Romney think he is to issue a warning to anyone???

    July 29, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  22. Stanley Engel

    I continue to dislike and distrust Mitt Romney but his views on Israel and Iran are the correct ones. Iranian authorities have repeatedly threatened to exterminate the Jews of Israel and they would do so if given nuclear weapons. The various shabby Persian Gulf states would survive but minutes if confronted by nuclear armed Iran. Dan Senor is correct in his views of the Palestinian so-called refugees. They should never be allowed to "return" to Israel but can move to a new Palestinian state. If they have an INALIENABLE right to return, then why hasn't the Palestinian Authority allowed them to come back? The answer of course is that they're not welcome and their cause is a fraud.

    July 29, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  23. clarke

    I guess I don't understand, Mitt is not the President so why is he doing this. I don't feel this is his place. Maybe because he is friends Netanyahu and he, (Netanyahu ) told Mitt what he should say. So all is good.

    July 29, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  24. Daystar

    Why not, we do not any more pressing problems here to address...i refuse to fight your war !

    July 29, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  25. saeed

    funny russia will drop one nuke and london will vaporize from the earths surface if usa and britain wants to fight then lets rock.

    July 29, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
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