President Obama and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney vowed at Monday night’s pre-election debate to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but highlighted differences in their approaches. Romney called Iran “the greatest national security threat” to the United States and said Iran is “four years closer” to a nuke due to the Obama Administration’s bad policy. He said the White House “was not as strong as it needed to be” from the onset in dealing with the Iranians, although he said he supported the economic sanctions and diplomatic coalition that Obama’s team has assembled against Iran. Romney called for tightening the sanctions and isolating Iran diplomatically to increase the pressure. “An Iranian nuclear program is not acceptable,” he said, calling military action “the last resort.” Obama said the sanctions have been effective in “crippling” the Iranian economy, leaving the Iranians with the choice of ceasing their nuclear aspirations or facing “a united world” with all options on the table. “The deal we’ll accept is they end their nuclear program,” he said. Romney’s campaign rhetoric seems to support taking “premature military action,” something “that would be a mistake,” said Obama during the Oct. 22 debate in Boca Raton, Fla. (Debate transcript)
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.