Reuters: Republican presidential candidates said on Tuesday it may be necessary to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent it from developing a bomb but the U.S. Congress should be consulted first. By Kevin Krolicki
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct 9 (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidates said on Tuesday it may be necessary to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent it from developing a bomb but the U.S. Congress should be consulted first.
A CNBC-sponsored debate included a lengthy discussion of Iran, two weeks after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the United Nations in New York and declared that “the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.”
Iran denies trying to build a nuclear weapon, but the United States, France, Britain and other countries disagree. The Republicans were generally cautious on launching a preemptive strike on Iran without first consulting Congress.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said if elected president in November 2008 and faced with a nuclear challenge from Iran he would talk to congressional leaders before taking action “because there may come a time when you need the approval of Congress.
“And I believe that this is a possibility that is, maybe, closer to reality than we are discussing tonight,” he said.
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson said he thought McCain “had it right,” and that in the event of a close call with Iran, “you should go to Congress, whether it’s legally required or not, because you’re going to need the American people and Congress will help you if they’re voting for it or if they support it…”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said “it’s safer to go to Congress, get approval from Congress.”
Giuliani, leading in the Republican opinion polls, took a shot at the Democratic front-runner, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, saying she had dodged a question at a Democratic debate about whether military action might be necessary to stop Iran from going nuclear.
“She was asked, ‘Would you take a strong position that Iran will not be allowed to become nuclear and that we would use a military option, if we had to?’ And she didn’t answer the question,” Giuliani said.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, an anti-war Republican, was troubled by all the talk of war with Iran.
“The thought that the Iranians could pose an imminent attack on the United States is preposterous,” he said. “This is just war propaganda, continued war propaganda, preparing this nation to go to war and spread this war not only in Iraq, but into Iran, unconstitutionally. It is a road to disaster for us as a nation.”
In 2002, President George W. Bush obtained congressional authorization for use of force against Iraq over allegations that Baghdad possessed weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.
Democrats have voiced fears that Bush might launch an attack on Iran without the approval of Congress, where they hold a majority.
(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters “Tales from the Trail: 2008” online at http://blogs.reuters.com/trail08/