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Bomb Iran? Where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum stand.

The two strongest Republican candidates to emerge from the Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, both are open to bombing Iran's nuclear weapons program.

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Santorum, by contrast, has been unequivocal: he would bomb Iran to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program.  

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In a lengthy interview on Meet the Press over the weekend, Santorum criticized Obama’s attempt at negotiating with the Iranians, and called for increased covert sabotage, bombings, and even arresting foreign scientists traveling to Iran to assist the Iranian nuclear weapons program, and “treating them like Al Qaeda.”

"I would be saying to the Iranians, you either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and, and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through airstrikes and make it very public that we are doing that.

If the intention of all this muscle-flexing was to encourage Iran to step down from its nuclear program, it hasn’t worked. On Jan. 2, Tehran announced that it had produced the nation’s first nuclear fuel rod, a sign that its indigenous nuclear scientists had the technical capabilities to complete all the steps in the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Nuclear fuel rods are composed of pellets of enriched uranium, and are used in nuclear reactors, but some nuclear scientists fret that Iran may be using its peaceful nuclear energy program as a cover for a nuclear weapons program.

Tehran also announced that it had launched a new medium range missile, during a naval drill in the Persian Gulf. Iran says the new missile is designed to evade radar.

And if the US hoped that its close relations with some of Iran's regional neighbors might give it the kind of leverage to encourage better behavior from Iran, that door seems to be closed as well.

Sumit Ganguly, an expert on Indian foreign policy at the University of Indiana at Bloomington, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, says that India would likely remain neutral rather than succumb to US pressure and oppose Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

India will still avoid taking sides. The inherent caution that seems to characterise Indian foreign policy is most likely to prevail. The Indians will try to have it both ways. We will say peaceful resolution of this impending crisis is in the interest of all parties; we enjoin both the United States and Iran to avoid escalation which could contribute to violence. I can virtually write the press communiqué that will emanate from [India's foreign office in] South Block.

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