Jerusalem: Looking to woo pro-Israel and Jewish voters back home, White House hopeful Mitt Romney took an aggressive stand against Iran, calling it an "incomparable" threat to the world and suggesting he would even back Israel's unilateral strike against the country.
In Israel to present his foreign policy credentials, Romney strongly backed the Jewish state contention that a nuclear Iran led by an Ayatollah regime is the greatest danger facing the world.
While he termed Iran an "unprecedented" threat, a senior aide of his said the former Massachusetts governor would back Israel if it were to decide it had to use military force to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
"If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision," Romney's senior national security aide Dan Senor told reporters travelling with the candidate.
The stand contradicts US President Barack Obama's attempts to convince Israel to avoid any pre-emptive attack.
Urging for a "strong and credible" military threat to deter Iran from acquiring nuclear capability, Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Romney that diplomacy and sanctions levelled against the Islamic Republic have failed to bring desirable results.
"I heard some of your remarks and you said that the greatest danger facing the world is the Ayatollah regime possessing nuclear weapons capability," Netanyahu said.
"Mitt, I couldn't agree with you more, and I think it is 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 diplomacy and sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian programme by one iota," the Israeli Premier added.
Netanyahu also emphasised that a "strong and credible military threat coupled with sanctions" was needed to "have a chance to change the situation”.
The White House hopeful, on his part, said he wanted to hear Netanyahu's perspective on Iran and about "further actions that we can take to dissuade Iran from their nuclear folly”.
"Like you, we are very concerned about the development of nuclear capabilities on the part of Iran and feel it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear armed nation," Romney told reporters on meeting President Shimon Peres.
"The threat it would pose to Israel, the region and the world is incomparable and unacceptable," he stressed.
Peres told Romney that Iran is bent on dominating the Middle East, and that he appreciates US efforts to block it by all means.
Iran, Peres charged, spreads and finances terror, is developing a nuclear weapon "against the wishes of the entire world" and has threatened "to bring an end to Israel”.
Israel's opposition leader, Shaul Mofaz, told Romney that non-military options on Iran have not yet run their course, but emphasised that "cooperation between Israel and the United States is more important than ever”.
"We have to be ready for all options on Iran, but the time for military operations has not yet come," Mofaz told Romney adding.
Before taking off for Poland tomorrow afternoon, the US Republican Presidential candidate is scheduled to host a fund-raiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
The cost to attend the event, where Romney is expected to appear for 45 minutes, is USD 50,000 a couple.
First Published: Sunday, July 29, 2012, 17:38