Iran’s nuclear ambitions create policy issue for candidates

United States-Iran relations are shaping up to be a major issue for both presidential candidates’ platforms this election cycle.

According to ABC News, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, President Barack Obama warned Iran, “The time for diplomacy is running out.”

Tensions are rising over Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the United States leads a mine-clearing exercise in the Persian Gulf.

Obama has warned Iran that the U.S. will “do what it must” to curb Iran’s nuclear program and prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” Obama said in his speech.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later praised Obama’s speech, according to Politico, a political journalism organization.

“President Obama reiterated that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be contained,” he said. “I very much appreciate the president’s position, as does everyone in my country.”

“We share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons programs,” he said. “This goal united the people of Israel, it unites Americans – democrats and republicans alike – and it is shared by important leaders throughout the world.”

This statement comes after Netanyahu allegedly criticized Obama for not doing enough about Iran’s potential nuclear armament.

Former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has not wasted the opportunity to criticize Obama on this issue. In an op-ed piece written by Romney and published by The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 30, he accused Obama of lacking resolve regarding the Middle East, Iran and Israel.

Romney said the recent “disturbing developments” in the Middle East “are not, as President Obama says, mere ‘bumps in the road.’ They are major issues that put our security at risk.”

“Yet, amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them,” he said. “We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies. And that’s dangerous.”

“If the Middle East descends into chaos, if Iran moves toward nuclear breakout, or if Israel’s security is compromised, America could be pulled into the maelstrom,” he said.

Romney went on to allege that Obama has let the U.S. influence wane over recent years, and “by failing to maintain the elements of our influence and by stepping away from our allies … has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability.”

The candidates will have chances to clarify and expand upon their opinions and views regarding Iran at the Oct. 16 presidential debate, which will focus on both foreign and domestic policy within a town hall meeting format.