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United States presidential candidate John McCain said in comments aired Monday that while stiffer sanctions might stop Iran's threats against Israel, the U.S. in any event would not allow the Islamic Republic to try to destroy Israel.

McCain was speaking in an interview with Channel 2, which was broadcast just before Democratic candidate Barack Obama was 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, saying the U.S. and Europe could impose significant, very painful sanctions on Iran which I think could modify their behavior."

He added, "But I have to look you in the eye and tell you that the United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust."

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 explored 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.

Also on Monday, visiting British prime minister Gordon Brown condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for the destruction of Israel as "abhorrent," and vowed that Tehran's bid to acquire nuclear weapons would not be allowed to pass.