Factbox: Key quotes as Obama, Republicans spar over Iran

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 06, 2012 6:36 PM
Factbox: Key quotes as Obama, Republicans spar over Iran

(Reuters) - Below are quotes about Iran on Tuesday from U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

ROMNEY IN AN OP-ED PUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST

"The same Islamic fanatics who took our diplomats hostage are racing to build a nuclear bomb. Barack Obama, America's most feckless president since (Jimmy) Carter, has declared such an outcome unacceptable, but his rhetoric has not been matched by an effective policy.

"The United States cannot afford to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons. Yet under Barack Obama, that is the course we are on.

"I will take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs. Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must ... Most important, I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Only when they understand that at the end of that road lies not nuclear weapons but ruin will there be a real chance for a peaceful resolution."

SANTORUM SPEAKING AT AMERICAN ISRAEL PUBLIC AFFAIRS

COMMITTEE CONFERENCE

"If Iran doesn't get rid of (its) nuclear facilities, we will tear them down ourselves."

"This is not bellicosity and warmongering, this is preventing the most radical regime in the world from having a weapon that could fundamentally change the security posture ... for all freedom-loving people in the world."

"A nuclear Iran with a nuclear shield to project terror around the world is a nightmare for all freedom-loving people in the world."

"Under a Santorum administration, we would find no gap between Israel and the United States because our interests are united."

NEWT GINGRICH, SPEAKING VIA VIDEO LINK TO AIPAC CONFERENCE

"In a Gingrich administration, we would not keep talking while the Iranians keep building. We would indicate clearly that their failure to stop their program is in fact crossing a red line.

"The red line is not the morning the bomb goes off. The red line is not the morning our intelligence community tells us they have failed once again.

"The red line is now, because the Iranians now are deepening their fortifications, deepening their underground laboratories, deepening their commitment to nuclear weapons while we talk. It is an unacceptable risk and we should not participate in it but we should move from strength."

OBAMA SPEAKING AT WHITE HOUSE NEWS CONFERENCE

"At this stage, it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically."

"What's said on the campaign trail, you know, those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander-in-chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I am reminded of the costs involved in war. I am reminded (of) the decision that I have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle and the impact that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy.

"This is not a game. There is nothing casual about it. And, you know, when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out (that) they repeat the things that we've been doing over the last three years. It indicates to me that that's more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

"Now, the one thing that we have not done is we haven't launched a war. If some of these folks think that it's time to launch a war, they should say so, and they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be. Everything else is just talk."

"I think there's no doubt that those who are suggesting or proposing or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be. I am not one of those people because what I've said is that we have a window through which we can resolve this issue peacefully, we have put forward an international framework that is applying unprecedented pressure, the Iranians just stated that they are willing to return to the negotiating table, and we have got the opportunity, even as we maintain that pressure, to see how it plays out."

(Reporting By Susan Cornwell and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Philip Barbara and Bill Trott)