Romney, Netanyahu agree nuclear Iran is 'unacceptable'

Mitt Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed a nuclear Iran was "unacceptable" in a phone conversation Friday afternoon, according to the Republican nominee's campaign.

"The Prime Minister and the Governor agreed that an Iran with nuclear weapons capability is unacceptable," said Romney traveling press secretary Rick Gorka, according to CNN. "They also discussed recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa generally. Governor Romney reiterated his belief that the United States has no greater friend and ally in the region than Israel."

Gorka added that Romney and Netanyahu "agreed that the largest security threat to Israel and the entire world is a nuclear-capable Iran."

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Later, Romney spoke to reporters traveling on his campaign plane and said he believed there was a "strategy that would lead us to preventing Iran from developing nuclear capability" that could avoid military intervention.

"I do not believe that in the final analysis we will have to use military action," Romney said, according to a pool report. "I certainly hope we don’t have to. I can’t take that option off the table. It must be something which is known by the Iranians as a possible tool to be employed to prevent them from becoming nuclear. But I certainly hope that we can prevent any military action from having to be taken."

Romney added that President Obama had "moved over time" on the issue of Iran.

"From the very beginning, I thought crippling sanctions needed to be put in place," Romney said. "Well part is to see action as opposed to just words. His words more recently are more consistent with the words I've been speaking for some time, and we'll see what actions he pursues. But crippling sanctions."

The call came amid criticism of Obama for not meeting with the Israeli leader while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

The president also spoke to Netanyahu on Friday in an hour-long discussion. According to the White House, "the two leaders underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

But it's clear Republicans are looking to align Romney closely with the Israeli leader in an effort to win over Jewish voters — and shore up the evangelical base.

In a not-so-subtle swipe at the president, Gorka added that the "call was a good opportunity for Governor Romney to catch up with his friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu — as you may recall, they had an official meeting when the governor was in Israel this summer."

Republicans have criticized Obama for not traveling to Israel since taking office. Similarly, the Romney campaign has emphasized the personal relationship between their candidate and Netanyahu, who have known each other for decades after working together at a consulting firm in Boston.

On Thursday, Netanyahu gave an impassioned speech to the U.N. in which he drew a red line — literally — on an illustration representing Iran's nuclear weapons program. 

"The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb," Netanyahu said. "The relevant question is, at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb? The red line must be drawn on Iran's nuclear enrichment program, because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target."

This post was updated at 4:40 p.m.