Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said on Thursday that, if elected president, he would support an Israeli air strike on Iran if there is proof that the Islamic Republic is inching closer to a nuclear weapon.
“Obviously, we are going to support Israel,” Perry said in an interview with CNN. “And I’ve said that we will support Israel in every way that we can, whether it’s diplomatic, whether it’s economic sanctions, whether it’s overt or covert operations, up to and including military action.”
Perry added, “We cannot afford to allow that madman in Iran to get his hands on a nuclear weapon, period.”
Perry has been a long time supporter of Israel and has spoken out against the current administration’s policy against the Jewish State.
In September, Perry blamed the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations on President Barack Obama’s policies.
“We would not be here today at this very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn't naive and arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” Perry said. “The Obama policy of moral equivalency which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a very dangerous insult.”
He later called on the U.S. to reconsider paying its dues to the UN.
Perry’s comments on an Israeli strike in Iran come in the midst of media speculation that such a strike is imminent. The speculations are based on unverified claims that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been lobbying for ministerial support for the strike.
The Israeli government has reportedly ordered a probe into leaks to the media which caused these speculations.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration clarified on Thursday that it has not yet given up on using diplomatic, rather than military means to get Iran to drop its nuclear program.
“What we’re focused on is a diplomatic strategy which increases the pressure on the Iranians, through financial pressure, through economic sanctions, through diplomatic isolation,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told reporters.
The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency is due to release a “critical” report on the Iranian nuclear program next week.