Romney to support Israel strike on Iran

US Republican candidate will respect decision to use force against Iran over N-concerns

 US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would support an Israeli decision to use military force to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, a senior aide said on Sunday.

Romney met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on the second leg of a trip show display his foreign policy credentials in his race to unseat President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.

Shortly before talks with Netanyahu, Romney’s senior national security aide, Dan Senor, told reporters travelling with the candidate:

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision.”

The comment seemed to put Romney at odds with Obama’s efforts to press Israel to avoid any preemptive strike before tough Western economic sanctions against Iran run their course.

Senor later expanded on his remarks, saying Romney felt “we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course”.

It was Romney’s “fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so” and "no option should be excluded”, Senor said, adding that “Romney recognises Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with it”.

Standing beside Netanyahu at the Israeli leader’s office, Romney said only that Iran’s effort to become a nuclear power “is one which I take with great seriousness”.

The failure of talks between Iran and six world powers to secure a breakthrough in curbing what the West fears is a drive to develop nuclear weapons has raised international concern that Israel may opt for a go-it-alone military strike.

Netanyahu issued his customary call for stronger measures behind the sanctions to curb Iran’s programme, which Israel sees as a threat to its existence. Iran says its project is for peaceful purposes.

Military threat

“We have to be honest that sanctions have not set back the Tehran program one iota and that a strong military threat coupled with sanctions are needed to have a chance to change the situation,” Netanyahu said.

Israel has warned it is only a matter of time before Iran’s nuclear programme achieves a “zone of immunity” in which bombs will not be able to effectively strike uranium enrichment facilities buried deep underground.

Though Washington has been pressing Israel not to launch a solo strike on Iran, Obama has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to curb Iran’s nuclear drive.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Obama’s national security adviser had briefed Netanyahu on a US contingency plan to attack Iran.

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