During a visit to Jerusalem over the weekend, US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that the US has a “moral imperative” to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He added that the US recognised Israel’s right to defend itself and that it was right for the US to stand with Israel.
Romney also referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s “capital” – much to the dissatisfaction of the Palestinians, whose chief negotiator in peace talks, Saeb Erekat, called the reference “unacceptable”.
In his speech in front of Jerusalem’s Old City, Romney said Iran’s leaders were “testing our moral defences … They want to know who will object and who will look the other way. We will not look away nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel.”
He added that Iran was “the most destabilising nation in the world” and that the US had “a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions”.
While not directly referring to military force, Romney said the US should “employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course,” adding that “It is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded”.
Earlier on Sunday, Romney held talks with both Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. He told Peres he shared Israel’s concern about the development of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, saying: “The threat it would pose to Israel, the region and the world is incomparable and unacceptable.”
The Republican presidential hopeful also met Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, but did not meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.