American presidential candidate John McCain told Israel's Channel 2 News station that stiffer sanctions might stop Iran's threats against Israel. In the interview broadcast Monday, the Republican candidate said that in any event, the US would not allow Iran to try to destroy Israel.
McCain's interview with Channel 2 TV aired just before Democratic candidate Barack Obama is due to arrive in Israel.
Asked about Israel feeling the need to attack Iran, McCain replied, "I would hope that would never happen. I would hope that Israel would not feel that threatened." He added that the US and Europe could impose "significant, very painful sanctions on Iran which I think could modify their behavior."
"But I have to look you in the eye and tell you that the United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust," he affirmed.
Israel considers Iran a strategic threat, discounting reports that Iran has dropped efforts to build nuclear weapons. Iran is developing long-range rockets and has called often for Israel's destruction.
Asked about possible military actions against Iran, McCain said, "I think we have a lot of options to explore before we seriously explore the military option, and I don't think we have exercised those enough."
McCain said he favors low-level contacts with Iranian officials, but not a meeting of presidents without preconditions. He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would take advantage of such a meeting and its media coverage to call for the destruction of Israel.