Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would “respect” a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran to keep the country from developing nuclear weapons, a top Romney adviser said Sunday.
“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability the governor would respect that decision,” foreign policy adviser Dan Senor told reporters in Israel during the candidate’s visit to the Jewish state, CNN reported.
According to Politico, Senor said keeping the threat of a military strike on the table represents the best chance for peace.
“The governor believes that at this point the only thing that could focus and force the minds of the Iranian leadership on ending their nuclear weapons, their path to a nuclear weapons capability, is the belief that the alternative is far worse,” he said.
The Romney campaign subsequently issued a clarification from Senor saying the former Massachusetts governor “believes we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is his fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so.”
“In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. Gov. Romney recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with it,” he said.
The hawkish tone from the Romney camp comes as both he and President Barack Obama vie for Jewish voter support and seek to establish their commitment to Israel: Last week, on the eve of Romney’s overseas tour, Obama signed a $70 million bill in approved funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket defense system. Additionally, a report in an Israeli newspaper the same weekend as Romney’s trip said the Obama administration has shared its contingency plan for an attack on Iran with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a major foreign policy address scheduled for later Sunday, Romney is expected to state flat-out that preventing a nuclear Iran “must be our highest national security priority.”
“Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way,” Romney will say, according to advance excerpts of the address provided by his campaign. “My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away, and neither will my country.”