Mitt Romney would support a unilateral military strike by Israel against Iran to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapon capability, a senior foreign policy adviser said Sunday.
The presumptive Republican nominee began a series of meetings with top Israeli officials here Sunday and plans to deliver a muscular defense of Israel in a formal speech delivered near Jerusalem’s Old City.
Previewing the candidate’s remarks, adviser Dan Senor told reporters that Romney would back Israeli military action against Iran.
“It is an existential threat and we in the West partnering with Israel should do everything we can from stopping Iran from developing that weapons capability,” Senor said. “And if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision.”
Senor also said Romney believes the option of a U.S. strike against Iran should be “on the table,” adding that the threat of military action could push the Iranians to stop enriching uranium.Senor cautioned that Romney is not “advocating” for military action, but believes it should be an option.
“The governor’s view is the military option should be avoided if possible, but it also should not be taken off the table, that if we hope for the Iranians to reach some kind of resolution that is acceptable to Israel and the United States — a resolution that would involve zero enrichment of uranium — the only shot we have is if they believe the alternative to zero enrichment is severe,”
Senor said. “And that’s why the threat of military force has to be credible.”
The Obama administration has urged the Israelis to be patient while international sanctions against Iran are given time to work, but has assured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel has the right to act in its own national security interests. Some in the administration fear that an Israeli strike against Iran could ignite a regional war.
A senior Israeli official denied a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Sunday that Obama’s National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, had briefed Netanyahu during a recent visit on American plans for a possible attack on Iran.
The report, which cited an unnamed senior American official, coincided with the start of Romney’s meetings here and appeared to underline Obama’s readiness to use military force. “Nothing in the article is correct,” said the Israeli official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.