In a email to Jeffry Goldberg for the Atlantic, Romney clarified his position on the Iranian threat and explained why Obama has lost credibility on the diplomatic track, failing to stop Iran’s enrichment of uranium, getting closer to a nuclear bomb.
Here are the crucial bits, Jeffrey Goldberg writes in Bloomberg.com:
“I have always talked about the diplomatic process,” he wrote. “I will not rule out diplomatic options, so long as we would not be rewarding bad behavior and so long as the Iranian leadership was truly cornered and ready to change its behavior. A crumbling economy is not enough. Because even with a crumbling economy, the Iranian leadership is still racing towards a bomb right now.”
“Our closest allies, like Israel, will not learn about our plans from the New York Times,” Romney wrote. “And I’ll be clear with the American people about where I’m heading. I won’t be secretly asking the Ayatollahs for more flexibility following some future election.”
He also denied that his new emphasis on negotiations means that he would accept less than a complete halt to Iran’s nuclear work: “To be clear, the objective of any strategy will be to get Iran to stop spinning centrifuges, stop enriching uranium, shut down its facilities. Full stop. Existing fissile material will have to be shipped out of the country.”
I asked Romney to name the biggest mistake he thinks Obama has made on Iran. “President Obama has sent the Ayatollahs mixed messages throughout the past four years,” he wrote. “That’s why he has lost credibility on the negotiating track. Round after round after round of talks and nothing to show for them. Iran continues to race to a nuclear weapons capability and continues to become more brazen in its support of terrorism around the world, including a terror plot in Washington, D.C.,” a reference to a thwarted plot, hatched in Tehran, to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S.
Romney went on: “What do I mean by mixed messages? In the first year of his administration, the President said he would sit down with Ahmadinejad without pre-conditions, and President Obama deliberately remained silent during the Green Revolution, signaling to the Ayatollahs that Iran’s dissident movement would not have America’s support. President Obama also pursued a policy of creating ‘daylight’ — his word — between the U.S. and Israel. And through the end of the third year of his administration, the president fought congressional efforts — bi-partisan congressional efforts — to pass crippling sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank. This all happened against the backdrop of the president’s top advisors and cabinet secretaries broadcasting the risks of the military option, therefore conveying to Iran’s leadership that the threat is simply not real. Add all of this together, one can understand why Iran’s leaders are not taking the United States very seriously these days.”
“Which brings me to a central contradiction in this looming crisis,” writes Goldberg. “Obama, the putative appeaser, is more likely than Romney to use military force against the regime’s nuclear sites. Romney, on the other hand, isn’t the warmonger the Obama camp makes him out to be. He has never closed the door on the idea of negotiations, and his answers in the debate, and in our e-mail exchange, are consistent with earlier statements. If the Iranians are led to believe that he might just be crazy enough to strike — he would find it easier to force the regime to the negotiating table,” Goldberg concludes.