On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney adopted a hardliner stance on Iran. Now, he's getting tough on the Obama administration's attempts to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran; in a USA Today op-ed, Mitt Romney said that President Obama should do "the right thing on Iran: Walk away from a flimsy nuclear agreement." He urges the administration to avoid being enticed by the image of a political deal, instead asking for more from the Iranians in negotiations. He said: "Walking away from all that would be courageous. It would also be right."
Romney then outlines the history of nuclear deals forged with North Korea and their ineffectiveness:
The North Korea deal required complete dismantling of the country's enrichment capabilities and had no explicit expiration date. A soft nuclear agreement with a rogue state? Fool us twice, shame on us.
It's a fair point to reference, though we aren't negotiating with North Korea. It is hard to blanket judge one country off of another, even if nuclear acquisition is the name of the game for both. Though there is a major difference between their programs. Very clearly, North Korea wants a nuclear weapons program, as opposed to Iran, which claims enrichment exclusively for domestic energy use.
Romney references Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's congressional address, offering his interpretation of the speech:
Walk away from a Swiss-cheese agreement; institute even more punitive and crippling sanctions than have been imposed; and remove those sanctions only when Iran agrees to dismantle its nuclear enrichment capability and to submit to unrestricted inspections.
If Romney were president, he may not be entirely opposed to negotiating with Iran, though stricter conditions would be met to reach a deal. Let's remember that Romney was a businessman long before he was a politician; perhaps he thinks his boardroom negotiating skills would transcend into stronger diplomatic results. He would not allow Iran to enrich nuclear centrifuges; any continued activity would result in additional crippling economic sanctions until Iran came back to the table.
Romney isn't straying far from an op-ed he wrote in March 2012 for The Washington Post in which Romney outlined his Iran policy. He advocated for "peace through strength," bolstering the size and might of the military, only resorting to engagement if the Iranians did not dismantle nuclear facilities.
Only when [Iran] understand[s] that at the end of that road lies not nuclear weapons but ruin will there be a real chance for a peaceful resolution.
Looking at his recent comments, Romney has toned down from his past inclination toward military action. Though his resolve to not accept any nuclear enrichment in the Islamic Republic remains, be if for energy or military purposes.
The reality is this: Mitt Romney was not elected president and has no say over how the U.S. conducts foreign policy. Though like the senators who chose not to sign the letter to Iran, he is offering a more pragmatic and appropriately delivered response to his apprehensions about a potential nuclear deal. Romney may not be commander-in-chief, but his response indicates that he is a statesman.
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