With one last chance for both candidates to appeal to millions of voters, Obama was the aggressor from the start of the debate which was mainly devoted to foreign policy issues. "We're not going to allow Iran to perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere. And I've been very clear to them because of the intelligence coordination that we do with a range of countries, including Israel, we have a sense of when they would get breakout capacity, which means that we would not be able to intervene in time to stop their nuclear program, and that clock is ticking," Obama said.
"We are going to make sure that if they do not meet the demands of the international community, then we are going to take all options necessary to make sure they don't have a nuclear weapon," 51-year-old Obama warned in a live debate. Taking a harder line, 65-year-old Romney said a nuclear-capable Iran is unacceptable to America, declaring the Islamic republic as "the greatest threat the world faces".
"It presents a threat not only to our friends, but ultimately a threat to us to have Iran have nuclear material, nuclear weapons that could be used against us or used to be threatening to us. It's also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran, and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through peaceful and diplomatic means," he said.
The two candidates agreed that the United States should defend its key ally Israel if Iran attacked Tel Aviv, but Romney said he would tighten sanctions that are already affecting the Iranian economy. Romney also called for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be indicted under the UN genocide convention over his comments questioning the Holocaust. The Republican hopeful said he would make sure that Iranian diplomats "are treated like the pariah they are around the world."