CNN’s John King asked Perry about a recent Israeli long-range missile test and an upcoming International Atomic Energy Agency report that is expected to be critical of Iran’s nuclear program, which Western countries say is for making a weapon. Perry responded that he would support any Israeli action to prevent a nuclear armed Iran, including military, dismissing any potential fallout:
KING: If that report says Iran is progressing, moving closer to having a nuclear weapon, there’s a lot of talk in the region that Israel might take preemptive action. Would a President Perry say, “Go ahead, Mr. Prime Minister, green light that”?
PERRY: Obviously, we are going to support Israel, 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. We cannot afford to allow that mad man in Iran to get his hands on nuclear weapons, period.
KING: Even if it started a war in the region?
PERRY: We cannot allow that mad man to get his hands on a nuclear weapon, because we know what he would do with it.
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CNN analyst David Gergen said Perry’s comment “goes far beyond what American political leaders have generally said.” In the past, Perry, an evangelical Christian, has said, “My faith requires me to support Israel.”
Top Israeli security officials have warned that an attack on Iran could set off regional conflagration.
Reports in the Israeli press set off a recent round of chatter about a potential strike, casting Israel’s powerful Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak as supporting an attack on Iran.