Entries in Nuclear Weapons (7)


Romney Says Military Action Against Iran May Not Be Necessary

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney said Friday that he does not believe military action will be necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capability.

Romney added that he still leaves the option of military action “on the table” should it be needed.

Romney’s remarks came as he told reporters Friday afternoon about the phone conversation he had just finished with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During the conversation, Romney said it was made clear that he and Netanyahu “very much have the same interest to make sure that Iran does not develop nuclear capability, which would threaten the existence of Israel, threaten devastation potentially in other nations of the world, and we must make every effort to prevent them from developing that nuclear capability.”

“I also believe that there is a strategy that would lead us to preventing Iran from developing nuclear capability. I do not believe in the final analysis we will have to use military action,” said Romney.

“I certainly hope we don’t have to.  I can’t take that option off the table; it must be something which is known by the Iranians as a possible tool to be employed to prevent them from becoming nuclear,” he said. “But I certainly hope that we can prevent any military action from having to be taken.”

Romney, who repeated Friday that he would have encouraged crippling sanctions against Iran earlier than the President did, appeared to soften his tone, no longer declaring with certainty that if Obama is reelected, Iran will get a nuclear weapon.

In his speech to the United Nations on Thursday, Netanyahu, who has for months hinted that Israel would take military action against Iran, also appeared to take a more softened tone.

Netanyahu pushed back to next summer the date by which he believes Iran could get a nuclear weapon, and even offered President Obama, with whom relations have not always been good with, praise for the sanctions he’s placed on Iran.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Responds to Open-Mic Incident, Jokes ‘Are The Mics On?’

KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- President Obama offered his explanation Tuesday for the hot-mic moment that caught him asking the Russian president for “flexibility” and “space” on missile defense until after November’s election, saying “this is not a matter of hiding the ball.”

“The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” Obama told reporters following a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.  “I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that.”

Reporters at the Nuclear Security Summit overheard Obama asking Medvedev on Monday to tell incoming President Vladimir Putin “on all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

“This is my last election.  After my election I have more flexibility,” he added.

On Tuesday, Obama stressed that his remarks reflect the political climate.

“Arms control is extraordinarily complex, very technical, and the only way it gets done is if you can consult and build a strong understanding, both between countries and within countries,” he said.  “I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before presidential and congressional elections in the United States, and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia, and they’re in the process of a presidential transition where a new president’s going to be coming in a little less than two months.”

While his conversation with Medvedev was intended to be private, Obama said it was not “a matter of hiding the ball.”

“I’m on record,” the president said of wanting to reduce nuclear stockpiles.  “I want to see us over time gradually, systematically reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.”

Obama’s comments on Tuesday came after Republicans pounced on the open-mic incident.

“When the president of the United States is speaking with the leader of Russia saying he can be more flexible after the election, that is an alarming and troubling development,” Republican front-runner Mitt Romney said.  “This is no time for our president to be pulling his punches with the American people.  And not telling us what he’s intending to do with regards to our missile defense system, with regards to our military might and with regards to our commitment to Israel and with regard to our absolute conviction that Iran must have a nuclear weapon.”

Obama does seem to have a sense of humor about the incident.  Before responding to a reporter’s question about his comments, the president jokingly asked, “First of all, are the mics on?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Dings Romney for Saying Russia Is Top Geopolitical Foe

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday took issue with comments from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stating that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”

Carney, a former Moscow-based correspondent for TIME magazine, stated that “in a world where al Qaeda is so clearly the preeminent threat to the United States, and similar organizations, it seems a little inaccurate to make that statement about Russia where Russia is a county that we have been able to cooperate with on very important issues even as we disagree with them on others and that includes missile defense and Syria.”

Romney had been responding to the comments President Obama made on Monday to outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, unaware that a microphone was making the private remarks quite public.

On issues, “particularly missile defense,” Obama told Medvedev that incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needed to give him “space.”

“This is my last election.  After my election I have more flexibility,” the president said.

Medvedev said he would “transmit the information to Vladimir.”

Appearing on CNN, Romney said Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe.  They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.  The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very very troubling indeed.”

He noted that “Russia continues to support Syria, supports Iran, has fought us with crippling sanctions we wanted to have the world put in place against Iran.  Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage and for this president to be looking for greater flexibility where he doesn’t have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia is very very troubling, very alarming.  This is a president who is telling us one thing and is doing something else.”

Carney said “the relationship that president Obama has established with Russia when he pressed the reset button in 2009 has born a great deal of fruit, including Russia’s cooperation with China at the United Nations in sanctioning Iran, Russia’s cooperation and assistance to the United States on our Afghanistan mission in terms of trans-shipment issues.”

On Tuesday, Obama responded to a question about what he meant by his open microphone comment, saying, “The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations.  I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Will Have Nukes If Obama Is Re-Elected, Romney Says

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(SNELLVILLE, Ga.) -- Mitt Romney responded Sunday to President Obama’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), saying the “president has failed” with sanctions against Iran and warning that if he is re-elected, “Iran will have a nuclear weapon.”

“This president has failed,” Romney said.  “I understand he just gave an address today talking about all the great things he’s done to provide greater peace and reduce the threat from Iran.  That hasn’t happened.  This president failed to speak out when the dissidents took the streets in Tehran, he had nothing to say.”

Earlier on Sunday, Obama addressed AIPAC and discussed the situation in Iran, saying that he “firmly” believes “that an opportunity remains for diplomacy -- backed by pressure -- to succeed,” adding that “the only way to solve this problem is for the Iranian government to make a decision to forsake nuclear weapons.”

But later that day, Romney challenged Obama’s statements in an answer to a question posed by an 11-year-old boy who had come to hear him speak at a pancake breakfast just outside of Atlanta.

“This is a president who has failed to put in place crippling sanctions against Iran,” Romney told the boy, who had asked what Romney would do to protect Israel from Iran.

“He’s also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand,” Romney said.  “And that it’s unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

“If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change if that’s the case,” he said.  “Because if the world’s sponsor of terror, if the nation that sponsors terror -- Hezbollah, Hamas, and so forth and by the way Hezbollah now in Latin America as well -- if they have fissile material, then the world has changed."

“And I’m not willing to allow your generation to have to worry about a threat from Iran or anyone else that nuclear material be used against Americans,” Romney said.

Romney is scheduled to address AIPAC on Tuesday morning via satellite from Ohio.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


David Axelrod: Don’t Doubt Obama’s Resolve on Iran

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday that “no one should doubt the president’s resolve” on Iran, and that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have the same objective of preventing Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

Obama is set to meet with Netanyahu Monday at the White House for a critical summit on Iran’s nuclear efforts.

“Let’s first stipulate that there’s no difference between the United States and Israel on the issue of whether Iran should get a nuclear weapon,” Axelrod said on ABC's This Week.  “They’re going to sit down and they are going to talk through the tactics involved, but no one should doubt the president’s resolve.”

“Not just because of the security of Israel, but because of the security of the United States of America,” Axelrod added.  “It is important that Iran not get a nuclear weapon.”

In some of his clearest language yet on the issue, Obama told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg “I don’t bluff” when discussing Iran’s nuclear program, and that all options were on the table to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability.

“I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” President Obama told Goldberg in an interview last week.  ”[B]oth the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called Obama’s comments “a good step in the right direction,” but questioned whether the Obama administration will be willing to move as quickly as Israel to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

“The question for the president is, if the Israeli prime minister decides that he cannot afford to take the risk of waiting to see whether or not the intelligence agencies are right, and he decides that for the survival of Israel, he has to do something to take out the weapons systems, will the president in fact support him or will the president try to stop him?” Gingrich said on This Week.

“I think that’s the core question.  Because I think the Israelis are likely to move much, much earlier than an American president would,” Gingrich added.

Goldberg said Obama had two main messages in his interview -- convincing Iran to take his words seriously, while also cautioning Netanyahu against a unilateral attack this year on Iranian nuclear facilities.

“The more important message at the moment was right to the prime minister, which is, please, also, you take me seriously when I say that Iran is not going to cross the threshold on my watch,” Goldberg said.  “So don’t do anything precipitous.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Talks Iran, Economy: 'I Deserve a Second Term'

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama sat down with NBC’s Matt Lauer on Sunday in a brief interview that aired before the Super Bowl.  For the last three years the president has done exclusive game-day interviews with whichever network is airing the NFL championship game.

Besides talking about the game itself, Lauer asked Obama about the more serious headlines of the day: The U.S. economy and Iranian posturing in the Middle East.

During 2009′s Super Bowl interview, also conducted by Lauer, the president said that if the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s goals didn’t come to fruition within three years his presidency could be a “one-term proposition.”

On Sunday, he said recent positive economic numbers earned him the possibility of re-election.

“I deserve a second term,” Obama said.  “But we’re not done.”

In December, 200,000 private sector jobs were added and the unemployment rate of 8.5 percent was the lowest since 2009.  According to the Department of Labor, a total 1.6 million jobs were added in 2011, up from 2010′s total of 940,000.

Those figures do not count the estimated 1.2 million Americans who dropped out of the labor force for lack of jobs, however.

“We’re not finished,” Obama said. “And we’ve got to not only boost up American manufacturing, so that not just the auto industry, but all American manufacturing is building again, and selling overseas.”

The president also reaffirmed his call for increased American energy production, both from oil and clean alternatives. His critics have called such comments simply talk: his actions, they say -- like foot dragging on off-shore oil drilling permits and nixing the Keystone oil pipeline -- show Obama's policies contradict his soundbites.

On the subject of Iran, Obama told Lauer he believed Israel hadn’t yet decided how to handle the increased tension with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program. However, he said the dialogue between Washington and Tel Aviv would ensure no surprises.

“We have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we ever have,” he said.  “And my number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel.”

Questioned over suggestions that Iran could retaliate by striking inside the United States, the president said he didn’t see any evidence Tehran had the capability, and that while the administration’s goal was to handle the Middle East state diplomatically, nothing was off the table.

“I’ve been very clear that we’re going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and creating an arms race, a nuclear arms race, in a volatile region,” Obama said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Takes Swipe at Ron Paul on Iran Nuke Policy

Toni Sandys/The Washington Post(MUSCATINE, Iowa) -- Mitt Romney took a veiled swipe at the current front-runner in Iowa, Ron Paul, during a meet-and-greet with voters at an Iowa coffee shop, suggesting that his GOP rival has little concern about Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“At the same time the greatest threat Israel faces and, frankly, the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran,” Romney said, answering a question about Middle East relations at Elly’s Tea and Coffee Shop. “We have differing views on this, some of the people, actually one of the people running for president thinks it’s okay for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I don’t.”

Earlier this month during a debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Paul cautioned against “jumping the gun” when it comes to Iran.

“I would say that the greatest danger is overreacting,” Paul said during the Fox News debate. “There is no evidence that they have it. And it would make more sense -- if we lived through the Cold War, which we did, with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, we ought to really sit back and think and not jump the gun and believe that we are going to be attacked. That’s how we got into that useless war in Iraq and lost so much in Iraq.”

But Romney contrasted his policy with Paul’s. “I don’t trust the ayatollahs, I don’t trust [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad,” Romney said of the Iranian president.

“I will do everything in my power to assure that Iran doesn’t become a nuclear nation [and] threaten Israel, threaten us and threaten the entire world,” Romney said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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