Romney 'Respects' Israeli Right to Attack Iran

Alexandra Jaffe
National Journal

An adviser to Mitt Romney said on Sunday that Romney would respect Israel's right to take action to halt Iran's nuclear program, but later released a statement saying Romney hopes economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts will prevent the need for such measures.

Dan Senor, Romney special adviser on foreign policy, told reporters in advance of a speech Romney will give in Jerusalem that the candidate believes it is "unacceptable for Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability."

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

Senor later went on to clarify in a statement that while Romney believes "we should employ any and all measures" to prevent a nuclear Iran, it's Romney's "fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so." He added: "in the final analysis, no option should be excluded."

Romney will say in his speech, according to advance remarks, that "preventing [a nuclear Iran] must be our highest national security priority." 

Romney is on a six-day trip to England, Israel and Poland. While in Israel, he has met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials.

The comments from his campaign about Iran are consistent with Romney's longstanding contention that Obama is not tough enough to prevent a nuclear Iran.

"If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon," he said at a foreign policy debate among GOP primary candidates last November. "If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon."