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Matt Rourke, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, meets patrons of Tommy's Ham House, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, during a campaign event in Greenville, S.C.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is saying the U.S. should not have condemned the death of an Iranian nuclear scientist this week.

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan died Wednesday, when a bomb attached to his car by a passing bicyclist exploded. The Obama administration condemned the killing.

Santorum said the administration's public posture does not reflect a hard line on Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

To about 200 people in a crowded Greenville diner, he said: "Our country condemned it. My feeling is we should have kept our mouth shut."

The former Pennsylvania senator supports missile strikes to disrupt Iran's nuclear capability, if the country does not comply with demands to inspect its nuclear facilities.

He added: "They cannot have a nuclear weapon, because you, in Greenville, will not be safe."