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Posted: 3:32 PM-

BOSTON - Republican Mitt Romney would appoint an ambassador-at-large to prevent nuclear terror if elected president, arguing that avoiding a terrorist attack with unsecured nuclear weapons should take on heightened urgency in the United States.

The Republican candidate, in a speech planned for Thursday night at Yeshiva University in New York, says such a person would have the authority and resources to cross agency and departmental boundaries, ensuring nonproliferation strategies are coordinated at home and abroad.

"Further, I would promote an international initiative to develop a new body of international law that would make nuclear trafficking a crime against humanity, on a par with genocide and war crimes," according to a text of Romney's remarks provided to The Associated Press. "By allowing for universal jurisdiction, charges can be brought up in any court preventing traffickers from hiding in complicit or weak countries."

Romney says the acts of black marketeers trying to sell so-called loose nukes "should not be dismissed with the kind of nonchalance that accompanies routine violations of the law."

Details of the speech emerged Wednesday, the same day a rival GOP candidate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, formally launched his presidential campaign with a speech in early voting New Hampshire.

The Romney speech is part of an ongoing effort by the former Massachusetts governor, who has only served four years in elective office, to outline his foreign policy views. He has made several overseas trips, including one-day visits to Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In his planned remarks at Yeshiva, a 7,000-student research university rooted in the traditions of Jewish law and life, Romney chides former President Carter for suggesting a security fence in Israel prevents peace in the Middle East.

Carter, a Democrat, shared the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for, among other international efforts, helping negotiate a peace settlement between Israel and Egypt.

"What Jimmy Carter fails to understand is what so many fail to understand: Whether it is Hamas or Hezbollah or al Qaeda, there is an overarching goal among the violent jihadists that transcends borders and boundaries," Romney says. "That goal is to replace all modern Islamic states with a caliphate, to destroy Israel, to cause the collapse of the West and the United States, and to conquer the world."

Israel began building the barrier in 2002, saying the complex of concrete walls, razor wire and trenches was intended to keep Palestinian suicide bombers out of Israel. The Palestinians say the barrier, which dips into the West Bank in many areas to include Jewish settlements on the Israeli side, is an Israeli land grab that locks them up in enclaves, robbing them of a future state.

The barrier, designed to stretch 430 miles, is about two-thirds complete.