WASHINGTON (AFP) — Republican Rudolph Giuliani on Tuesday bluntly guaranteed that if he is the next US president, Iran will not get nuclear weapons, even if it takes a military strike to stop it.
The former New York mayor's hawkish warning came as the 2008 election campaign raced towards first party nominating contests in less than three months, and the US nuclear showdown with Iran emerged as a premier foreign policy issue.
"We have seen what Iran will do with ordinary weapons," Giuliani told a forum of presidential candidates organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition.
"If I am President of the United States, I guarantee you, we will never find out what they will do if they get nuclear weapons, because they are not going to get a nuclear weapon."
"The military option is not off the table. If America is clear that we will exercise the military option, the chances that we will have to do it decline."
Giuliani, who leads national Republican polls, said there was no doubt that Iran had embarked on a program to build nuclear weapons -- a charge Tehran denies, saying its effort is designed to meet energy needs.
He accused Democratic 2008 candidates, particularly front-runner Senator Hillary Clinton and her chief rival Senator Barack Obama, of weakness on Iran policy.
"We need an American president who can draw a line. The reality is we have to be clear. We don't want to use a military option. We will if we have to."
On Monday, Clinton said in a new foreign policy essay that the United States should offer Tehran a calibrated package of incentives for it to renounce nuclear development, reject terrorism and back Middle East peace moves.
But she and her aides clearly also stated that she would not take the military option off the table if negotiations failed.
Clinton and Obama have also clashed on Iran, after the New York senator said earlier this year he would personally be open to talks with leaders of Iran and those of other US foes like North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.
Giuliani did not mention the drive among world powers to negotiate with Iran over the nuclear program, but called on US firms to toughen sanctions on Tehran by divesting from the Iranian economy.
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