(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Mitt Romney said the current administration had “dawdled” with sanctions, and that its “policy of procrastination toward Iran” would end if he defeats President Obama in November.
“Iran has long engaged in terrorism around the world,” Romney said, addressing the conference via satellite from Ohio, which is one of the 10 Super Tuesday states voting on Tuesday. “The current administration has promoted a policy of engagement with Iran. The president even offered to sit down with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad during his first year in office without preconditions.”
“He was silent as Iranian dissidents took to the streets of Tehran, not wanting to disrupt the potential opportunity for dialogue with Iran’s tyrants,” said Romney, who frequently criticizes Obama’s handling of relationships with Iran on the campaign trail. “This president not only dawdled in imposing crippling sanctions, he’s opposed them.”
“Nuclear ambition is pursued by Iran to dominate, to subjugate, to obliterate. A nuclear Iran is not only a problem for Israel, it’s a problem for America, and it’s a problem for the world,” said Romney. “I will bring the current policy of procrastination toward Iran to an end. I will not delay imposing further crippling sanctions, I will not hesitate to fully implement the ones we already have. I will make sure Iran knows of the very real peril that awaits if it becomes nuclear.”
“As president, I will be ready to engage in diplomacy. But I will be just as ready to engage our military might. Israel will know that America stands at its side, in all conditions and in all consequence,” Romney continued.
“In a Romney administration, the world will know that the bond between Israel and America is unbreakable — that our opposition to a nuclear Iran is absolute. We must not allow Iran to have the bomb or the capacity to make a bomb. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve, and our allies should never doubt our commitment,” he said.
The Obama re-election campaign circulated an “AIPAC Watch Guide” just as Romney finished speaking, refuting several of Romney’s claims about Obama’s foreign policy.
In response to Romney’s main criticism — that President Obama has not done enough to impose crippling sanctions on Iran — the Obama campaign “truth team” wrote: “The truth is that President Obama has put in place the most severe sanctions Iran has ever faced, targeting Iran’s entire financial system.”
“With President Obama’s leadership, the U.S. gained the support of Russia, China and other nations to pass U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, creating the most comprehensive international sanctions the Iranian regime has ever faced-and they’re working,” reads the guide. “President Obama also worked with Congress to pass unilateral sanctions that make it harder for Iran to buy refined petroleum. And in December 2011, he signed into law new sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and its oil revenues. Iranian leaders have had to publicly acknowledge that these sanctions have severely weakened their economy.”
The Obama campaign also said that the president did not sit “silent” during the period of upheaval in the streets of Tehran, as Romney suggested he did, but that “the truth is that President Obama ‘strongly condemned’ the ‘unjust actions’ of the Iranian government and said he was ‘appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings, and imprisonments.’”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN
Euan McKirdy and Natalie L. Gallón, CNN
Chieu Luu and Huizhong Wu, CNN