Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign has updated its website to include a new so-called “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program. Previously, the site’s Iran section claimed that a President Romney would not tolerate Iranian possession of a nuclear weapon. The updated version of the site hinges on Iran’s nuclear weapons capability:
Below is a screenshot from a Google cached version of Romney’s site from September 29, 2012:
The shift is significant because it represents a much lower threshold for potential military action. Rather than disallowing the actual possession of, or run up to, a nuclear weapon, Romney’s position instead rules out Iran developing the ability to produce a bomb, which arguably, Iran is currently able to do. President Obama has said that it is his administration’s policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, leaving no option off the table in doing so.
Romney has shifted back and forth on the “capability” issue. His campaign advisers first floated the preventing a nuclear weapons capable Iran policy back in July. But Romney walked that back last month, saying his policy is the same as Obama’s, only to reverse it back to where his advisers laid it out in July. Now it appears that the Romney camp is officially settling on “capability” as the website change suggests. Moreover, the Romney camp, like the Senate just last month, doesn’t define “capability,” which is troublesome as various lawmakers in favor of this language have offered a wide array of meanings resulting in corresponding wide array of “red-lines” to initiate military strikes.
A recent Institute for Science and International Security report has determined that Iran has shortened the time it would take for it to achieve the ability to process uranium up to the ninety percent enrichment level that would make it weapons-grade. However, the same report notes that such a move would be detected by both the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) and the United States. One of the few possible reasons given by ISIS that Iran would move towards weapons-grade uranium enrichment would be a preemptive strike against its nuclear program.
Romney’s shift also comes at a time when Israel is pulling back its threats of military action against Iran’s program, having concluded that the IAEA’s assessment that Iran has slowed progress towards a nuclear weapon is correct. (HT: Foreign Policy)