There's a long way to go before it would be necessary to take military action against Iran's nuclear program, U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were both committed to preventing Tehran from reaching nuclear weapons capabilities.
Romney's comments, made during an interview to CNN, came days after the former Massachusetts governor accused U.S. President Barack Obama of distancing the United States from Israel, saying that he has failed to advance the Middle East peace process.
"The relationship between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel, our closest ally in the region, has suffered great strains," Romney said during a speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.
"The President explicitly stated that his goal was to put 'daylight' between the United States and Israel. And he has succeeded," Romney said."This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran," that is closer today to nuclear weapons capability and is "less deterred by America."
Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday evening, the Republican nominee emphasized what he said were the "values" he shared with Netanyahu: "we're both absolutely committed to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon."
"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," Romney added.
However, referring to the possibility of military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, the former governor said that there was "great hope and real prospects for dissuading Iran from taking a path that leads into a nuclear setting."
"Let's also recognize that we have a long way to go before military action may be necessary," Romney told CNN, adding: "And hopefully it's never necessary. Hopefully, through extremely tight sanctions, as well as diplomatic action, we can prevent Iran from taking a course which would lead to them crossing that line."
But, Romney added, should such action be necessary, "the actions of Israel would not come as a surprise to me," over the close contact he would have with Israel's leadership if he was to be elected president.
During his speech on Monday, the Republican nominee condemned Obama's policy on Iran, saying he sided with Israel but without specifically mentioning the "red lines" on Iran's nuclear program.
“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,” Romney said.
Romney added that the U.S. "must make clear to Iran through actions not through words" that their nuclear ambitions cannot be tolerated.
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