WASHINGTON — The United States would back Israel militarily if the Mideast ally were to attack Iran in self-defense, a bipartisan group of senators said Thursday in introducing a forceful resolution.
"No one wants another conflict anywhere in the world militarily, but we also don't want a nuclear-capable Iran," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a news conference.
The resolution also strongly endorses unilateral penalties against Iran. The measure comes as world powers met in Kazakhstan and proposed concessions to Tehran to maintain diplomatic channels that aim to rein in Iran's nuclear program.
Iran insists that program is geared toward peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and producing nuclear medical radioisotopes for medical use.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said he hopes for real progress toward a negotiated solution, but "we will not talk for talking sake."
The resolution says that if Israel is "compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military and economic support to the government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people and existence."
It says that nothing in the measure should be considered an authorization for the use of military force or a declaration of war.
"This is not a green light to Israel to do anything other than defend itself. ... We will be there," Graham said.
Joining Menendez and Graham were Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Hoeven, R-N.D., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
The group hopes to pass the resolution before President Barack Obama's expected trip to Israel in March.