In an appearance on CBS 60 Minutes, Senator McCain was asked if his administration would engage in a preemptive war against a country that might pose a threat to the US but has not attacked the US.
McCain echoed the Bush Doctrine and said that such an attack would be legitimate ‘if it is a provable direct threat’.
The Bush Doctrine, introduced in the wake of the September 11 attacks, is a series of aggressive foreign policy principles set by President George W. Bush’s administration, such as an anticipatory self-defense right – the right to launch preemptive strikes against any country that might attack the United States.
“Suppose that the Iranians had nuclear weapons. And you had a whole lot of other information about Iranian intentions and you could make the case to the American people and to the world, I think it’s obvious that we would have to prevent what we’re absolutely certain is a direct threat to the lives of the American people,” McCain expounded.
At a time when the US presidential election is greatly overshadowed by a major economic crisis and candidates are competing to prove they are capable of resolving this problem, Iran remains a major foreign policy challenge for both camps.
The Bush administration has long blamed Iran for the violence in Iraq, a country that is under US military occupation. Tehran maintains it only seeks the restoration of security and stability in its neighboring country.
The US also accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons, threatening the country with war. This, however, is contrary to the findings of the UN nuclear watchdog, which has comprehensively monitored Iran’s program since 2003.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced in its latest report on Iran that the agency could not find any ‘components of a nuclear weapon’ or ‘related nuclear physics studies’ in the country.
McCain’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama, also appeared on the Sunday program and discussed his Iran policy.
“I think that a nuclear-armed Iran is not just a threat to us, it’s a threat to Israel,” Sen. Obama said.
“It is a game-changer in the region. It’s unacceptable. And that is why I’ve said that I won’t take any option off the table, including military, to prevent them (Iranians) from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), denies seeking weapons of mass destruction, stressing that its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity for its growing population.
One hundred and eighteen members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as well as 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have so far expressed their support for Iran’s nuclear program.