WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that the United States must be prepared to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon -- and said that, as a last resort, steps should be taken toward overthrowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Graham, a military lawyer from Seneca and the senior Republican on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, is the first senator to support direct U.S. military intervention in Iran, saying it should not involve ground troops but be launched by U.S. war planes and ships.
"If you use military force against Iran, you’ve opened up Pandora’s Box," Graham told the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "If you allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, you’ve emptied Pandora’s box. I’d rather open up Pandora’s box than empty it."
Graham said he thinks Ahmadinejad "was lying" when he said Monday in New York, after arriving for the United Nations’ General Assembly, that Iran isn’t building a nuclear bomb.
"From my point of view, if we engage in military operations as a last resort, the United States should have in mind the goal of changing the regime," Graham said. "Not by invading (Iran), but by launching a military strike by air and sea."
Such an attack would be aimed not only at eliminating Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but at rendering Ahmadinejad government powerless.
In order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Graham said, a U.S. attack would be preferable to an Israeli attack because the American military is more powerful and more likely to achieve regime change.