GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that if the Iranians refuse to open up their nuclear facilities for inspection he would bomb them.
The former Pennsylvania senator who accused Obama of turning the U.S. into a "paper tiger," said: “I would be saying to the Iranians, you either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes."
Santorum is not the only GOP candidate who has taken a hard-line stance on Iran. Slate reports that Gingrich said in November that the U.S. should attack Iran covertly by "taking out" their scientists and "breaking out their systems."
A New York Times article, according to Slate, however, warned that: “the risk of tit-for-tat attacks raises a specter few seem to recognize: the first radiological war in history.” According to Slate, if Iran attacks Israel's unacknowledged Dimona nuclear facility it could release radioactive materials into the environment.
Press TV reports that last week, the Head of Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said Iran would welcome IAEA inspectors in Iran. Afer the IAEA rejected an invitation to inspectors in October because Iran did not address specific concerns the agency had raised, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said on December 20, that Tehran was ready to address any concerns. Press TV reports that the IAEA has so far ignored Iran's expressions of concern that it is leaking classified information about Iran's nuclear program to hostile foreign powers, especially information on its nuclear scientists whom it fears may be targeted for assassination.
Santorum's statement came in response to an announcement by Iran that it had tested its first nuclear fuel rod and a new medium-range radar evading missile. On Saturday, the Obama Administration signed a new defense bill that tightened sanctions against Iran and imposed penalties on foreign businesses and institutions having business links with the country's central bank. The Administration hopes to use the sanctions to cripple Iran's economy by limiting its ability to sell oil. AFP reports that Iran, in response, threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz through which about 20 percent of the world's crude oil supply passes, then latter, in what seemed a change of attitude, Iran proposed reopening international talks over its nuclear program.
Santorum's policy, if he is elected President, will represent a major departure from previous U.S Presidents. According to Associated Press (AP), both the Obama and Bush Administrations have focused primarily on diplomacy and economic sanctions in the effort to bring pressure to bear on the Iranians to abandon their nuclear program. But the Iranians have maintained the program is for peaceful purposes.
Iran is the second-biggest oil producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia, and 80 percent of the country's foreign exchange earnings come from oil sales.