July 30th, 2012
04:36 PM ET

Romney: Nuclear Iran is 'number one national security threat'

By CNN's Gregory Wallace

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney clarified his March remark that Russia is the nation's top foe, saying in an interview which aired Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" that Iran potentially poses the greatest national security threat to the U.S.

"The number one national security threat, of course, to our nation is a nuclear Iran," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, speaking in Jerusalem about the nearby nation.

Asked about Israel's borders, the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the London Olympics, and campaign finance, Romney offered little new policy or criticism of President Barack Obama.

"I'm on foreign soil, and because it's long been a policy of both political parties to leave politics at the water's edge, I'm not going to go through specific foreign policy prescription," he said in response to one question, echoing a similar caveat he affixed to other answers.

But Romney did clarify his comment last spring that Russia "is without question our number one geopolitical foe."

"I'm talking about most of the United Nations and actions of a geopolitical nature, Russia is the number one adversary in that regard," he said. "That doesn't make them an enemy. It doesn't make them a combatant. They don't represent the number one national security threat."

The candidate specifically cited Russia's role in Syria and in international sanctions, saying it "has been slow to move to the kinds of sanctions that have been called for in Iran.

"Russia is a geopolitical adversary but is not an enemy with a - you know, with... missiles being fired at one another and things of that nature," he said.

The GOP candidate stood by his position that the U.S. should "keep a military option available" to handle Iran, should diplomatic efforts and sanctions not "dissuade them from becoming a nuclear capability nation."

"I certainly hope that our military, under the direction of the president, has, in fact, prepared a whole series of contingency plans, not only to previous Iran from becoming nuclear but to respond were Iran to become more belligerent in its - in its efforts," Romney said.

The sanctions currently in place "could be, I'm sure, even more punitive."

Obama pointed to those efforts – including new sanctions aimed at the nation's banking and financial systems imposed this year -in a speech last week at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

"We're leading the fight against nuclear dangers," Obama said. "We've applied the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea - nations that cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons."

The Obama administration has also stated that all options remain on the table when dealing with a potentially nuclear Iran.

Also in his interview, Romney said the capital of Israel is Jerusalem - a city at the center of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Romney declined to answer questions about what position he holds regarding borders in the search for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Asked if he saw the starting point as the borders which existed prior to the 1967 Six Day War, Romney demurred.

"I'm not being that specific. I'm saying that there will be borders that have to be negotiated and what the starting point is something which will be decided by the parties involved," he said. "What the ending point is will be decided by the parties involved."

The issue of Israeli settlements – which the U.S. has criticized – "is something that should be discussed in private by the American president and our allies," Romney said.

"When we show a diplomatic distance between ourselves and our ally, I think we encourage people who oppose that relationship to seek other means to achieve their ends," he added.

Romney and Blitzer sat for the interview at the historic King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Sunday while the candidate was in the country on his foreign tour. He landed on Monday in Poland and was in London last week.

Filed under: 2012 Election • Iran • Romney
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Matt

    Iran does not have the means to carry out their threats to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, remove the cancer, annihilate the Zionists. Ok it is day one of a nuclear Iran and they have the means and they say it publicly. What do you do?
    I would be incline to strike first, is it a threat, are they going to carry it out, this will be every day. Then when you least expect it they have stuck first. At the moment they don't have the capability, when they do those words have meaning. The whole situation changes.

    August 5, 2012 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • Matt

      I think they are crazy, how ever assuming they are sane, I think you need to be able to kill around 20 to 30 million Iranians in a hot exchange to create a deterrent. That is a lot of people. Iran is a big country, a lot of rural population.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:19 am | Reply
      • Matt

        That is in case they surprise you and suddenly go nuclear, our goal, as their goal is in the long term should be to destroy the entire Persian population. In the short term 20 to 30 million will do.

        August 5, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  2. ZM

    Nonsense war monger = Mitt Romney

    July 31, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
  3. American People

    No. The biggest threat is idiots like mitt that off-shore jobs and then offshore the profits to evade taxes. The American People want to see mitt's tax returns for the last 20 years.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:40 am | Reply
  4. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    The GOP solution: Start a war with Iran (totally unfunded of course). Get the poor people to fight/die in the war while giving the rich people "no bid contracts". Thus killing two GOP birds with one stone. Then use Iran's oil to pay for the war. And when the war is over, Iran will sell us cheap oil!!! Just like in Iraq!!!!! Oh wait..........never mind.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:38 am | Reply
  5. Jon Walters

    Same ole Rep. reply to everything. They have not learned nuttin.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
  6. michaelfury

    Wrong. The "number one national security threat" is whoever got away with this:


    July 31, 2012 at 7:41 am | Reply
  7. Tim

    So Mitt, which is America's Number One enemy now? Is it Russia? Iran? China? North Korea? Or someone else? Can't you at least pick one country and stick to it, instead of....well.....etching a new sketch each time the question is asked? :rolls eyes:

    July 30, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
  8. AGuest9

    With a wide-open Southern border, Iran is the number 1 national security threat?

    July 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  9. bigs

    Israel is in violation of more UN resolutions, than any other country, including Iran.

    Israel was also voted the greastest threat to world stability, by an EU special council.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
    • biggers

      You are the Moron here..................

      You actually attempt to use aspects of the UN and EU in your argument???? They have been and will remain useless to the security of our own nation. If you give that much weight to the Russian, Chinese, and Greek views you might want to move there. Any true American knows who their rooted allies actually are and always have been. You are living in a fantasy world.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Reply
      • highspeed

        Sorry biggers, you are actually the moron...

        August 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • TAUS


      July 31, 2012 at 4:25 am | Reply
    • vlf1964

      Considering that Israel is the only country with nukes in the area, I'd say you are right ... Israel is the bigger threat to the Middle East ...

      Gee, one would think that Willard would be downright emaciated with all the backpedalling he's been having to do so far this year ... LOL

      July 31, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
  10. LeeAT

    I actually agree with Mitt, however; I agree for different reasons. Iran would be the biggest threat to our national security under a Romney presidency because, he would keep up tensions between them and us, just to raise the price of oil so high that most of the nation could not afford to drive. You can best believe that whatever it takes for the rich to get richer, is what Romney will do. The super rich are already showing what they are willing to do to regain control of this country, and just like what happen in Bush's second election, this nation is going to vote a joke into office, and regret it for the next four years. Obama has not done that bad compared to what he inherited. His problem is that he was such a wuss for 2 an a half years, that he allowed one of the most dysfunctional congresses in history get away with sitting on their rear ends and deliberately block everything that would make him look good. And for that, he deserves to lose in November. Everyone needs to go, it's just sad that Mitt Romney is what we are left with.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • bigs


      July 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  11. Darlene Buckingham

    A nuclear world is the biggest danger to the health of Earth. The arrogance of the USA and others that are using nuclear energy to think they can handle it is beyond foolishness. As a citizen of Earth and a knowledgeable rational person using nuclear fission to boil water to produce steam is reckless endangerment of the health of our Planet. The USA has no ability to deal with the repercussions of using this dangerous technology for the last 60 years. Ask the people of Fukushim – nuclear energy is all about war. Everyone loses in war. We are a loser planet at the moment until we stand up and say NO to nuclear energy and nuclear weapons everywhere on the Planet. Nuclear energy is harming life. ITs time to stop!

    July 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      WHAT is that safe, cheap and effective alternative to the nuclear energy, Darlene? WHY are you hiding it from us?

      July 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • Trevor

      You're right, the majority of the wars since nuclear energy have been developed has been because of it. Please inform the world of the wars that nuclear energy has been the central source of "contention", even a sub-set of a conflict? The whole world is waiting for you list...

      July 31, 2012 at 3:26 am | Reply
  12. dom

    Mormons love temples. They see themselves as being transplanted and claim a heredity with ancient jewish folks.

    July 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  13. ed

    No, Mutt, it isn't.

    July 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
    • bigs


      July 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply

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