Romney visits Western Wall ahead of tough speech on Iran

Holly Bailey

JERUSALEM—Mitt Romney made an unannounced visit to the Western Wall in Israel's Old City of Jerusalem Sunday, one of the most sacred sites in Judaism.

The visit came after several hours of meetings with top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. It came ahead of a speech Romney is to deliver later Sunday in which he is expected to voice a more aggressive stance toward Iran's attempts to develop a nuclear weapon.

Briefing reporters ahead of the speech, Dan Senor, a foreign policy adviser to the GOP candidate, said Romney would back Israel if the country launched a unilateral military strike to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability—though the campaign was quick to emphasize the candidate is hopeful that diplomatic measures will prevent that from happening.

"Gov. Romney 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," Senor told reporters. "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."

While Romney won't directly criticize President Barack Obama or his policies, aides said the speech will argue for a tougher stance against Iran, insisting the option of military action shouldn't be taken off the table.

According to excerpts of his remarks released by his campaign, Romney will argue that Iran is testing the world's "moral defenses."

They want to know who will object, and who will look away," Romney will say, according to excerpts. "My message to the people of Israel and Iran is one and the same: I will not look away and neither will my country."

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Netanyahu embraced Romney's aggressive language during a joint appearance with the GOP candidate earlier Sunday.

"Mitt, I couldn't agree with you more," Netanyahu said, as the GOP candidate stood at his side. "I think it's important to do everything in our power to prevent the Ayatollahs from possessing that capability. We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota."

The only chance of stopping Iran, Netanyahu said, is a "strong and credible military threat coupled with sanctions."

In his speech, Romney will say that those who argue against threatening Iran with military action are actually increasing the threat that there will be a war.

"It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war," Romney will say.