This article is one of 12 that examine where President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stand on some of the issues that are important to voters.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said it would not take military action off the table when dealing with Iran and its potential for acquiring nuclear weapons.
While Obama believes there is still time to resolve the issue through diplomacy, he said the U.S. will “do what we must” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He said a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten to eliminate Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy.
"But that time is not unlimited,” Obama said in a Sept. 25 speech to the U.N. General Assembly. “Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained.”
“As long as I'm president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,” Obama said during the third presidential debate.
Romney says he would make it clear to Iran that the U.S. would use its military to stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons if necessary. He believes Iran is on the cusp of nuclear weapons capability and that a nuclear Iran is the greatest national security threat.
Romney criticizes Obama for staying “silent” when the Green Revolution, in which protesters demanded removal of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was taking place in Iran in 2009. He also says he would implement new economic sanctions on Iran.
“And of course, a military action is the last resort,” Romney said during the last debate. “It is something one would only, only consider if all of the other avenues had been — had been tried to their full extent.”
“My guess is that Romney would probably not get any harsher on Iran than Obama is,” MU political science Cooper Drury said. “If the Iranians develop a bomb, it’s not going to hit the U.S. They don’t have the delivery system, but they may want to strike Israel.”
Regarding economic sanctions, Drury said the United States already has eliminated all trade with Iran. The U.S. could try to sanction third parties or people who do business with Iran. Otherwise, no further sanctions are possible. The threat of economic sanctions, Drury said, often is political rhetoric that “both sides use.”
Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an independent public policy organization said during a panel following the third presidential debate that there appears to be “little meaningful difference in the two candidate’s approach to Iran.”