President Obama has admonished the GOP presidential field when it comes to Iran, and the Republican contenders have fired back.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R). (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who rarely wades into presidential politics, issued a pointed statement late Monday singling out former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) for what Reed’s office described as Romney’s “misguided assertion that Iran will be able to develop nuclear weapons only if President Obama is re-elected.”

“Mitt Romney’s overheated commentary about Iran’s nuclear weapons program runs counter to the assessments of our military leaders and the intelligence community,” Reed said in a statement.

“The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is one of the most pressing national security issues facing our nation and our close ally Israel. The truth is, President Obama, with bipartisan support from Congress, is committed to preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capacity and he is using all of the tools of American power -- political, economic, and military -- to do so.”

Reed added that “distorting the president’s position and needlessly dividing Americans on a critical national security question may score political points with some, but it doesn’t serve the national interest.”

Romney had told voters in Snellville, Ga., on Sunday that if Obama is re-elected to a second term, “Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change.” Romney made the comment shortly after Obama delivered a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in which he made the case for a diplomacy-first approach to working to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Obama’s position has come under fire from all four GOP presidential contenders as well as top congressional Republicans such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Romney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) are expected to address AIPAC later this morning, – and will almost certainly bring up the topic of Iran.

Also, Romney penned an op-ed on Iran that is running in Tuesday’s Washington Post. For the full text, click here.

Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, on Tuesday called Reed’s criticism “simply more weakness from President Obama and his Democrat allies, who have failed for three years to steer Iran off its nuclear-armed course.”

“It is the Obama administration that played into Iranian hands by. . .talking down the effectiveness of a military option,” Saul said. “Mitt Romney will ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons capability.”