(CBS News) BOSTON - Mitt Romney said on Friday he believes the United States can prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without using military force, but reiterated that he will not take that option off the table.
The Republican nominee spoke to reporters about an afternoon phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which focused largely on the Israeli leader's comments to the United Nations on Thursday about setting a specific "red line" that Iran will not be allowed to pass in its attempt to obtain a nuclear weapon.
"We have, very much have, the same interest to make sure that Iran does not develop nuclear capability, which would threaten the existence of Israel, threaten devastation potentially in other nations in the world. And we must make every effort to prevent them from developing that nuclear capability," Romney said during a flight from Philadelphia to Bedford, Mass.
Asked to explain how exactly his position differs from that of President Obama, Romney spoke of the need to "see action, as opposed to just words." The Republican nominee said he would consider taking action to indict Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad under the Geneva Convention for incitation to genocide, while also taking action against Iranian diplomats to "treat them like the pariah[s] I think they are."
Romney also said he would use "extensive covert activity" against the Iranian regime. He acknowledged, however, that he couldn't distinguish how his use of covert activity might differ from what the Obama administration already is doing, since he is not privy to that information.
Asked if he would have handled the attack on the Libyan consulate differently than the president, Romney demurred, saying an investigation is still ongoing. But he said it is "increasingly clear" that the assault was a terrorist attack and not a response to an inflammatory film defaming the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
"There was a great deal of confusion about that from the very beginning on the part of the administration," Romney said, "and whether that was something that they were trying to paper over or whether it was instead just confusion given uncertain intelligence reports--time will tell."