Sen. Tom Cotton says the U.S. military should strike Iran in retaliation for attacking two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week.
Cotton made the remarks Sunday during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan.
Watch a clip from the interview below:
“You have long been defined as a hawk on Iran. You see these recent attacks, these are commercial vessels, not military installations. What kind of response is warranted?” Brennan asked.
“Well, Iran for 40 years has engaged in these kinds of attacks, going back to 1980s. In fact, Ronald Reagan had to re-flag a lot of vessels going through the Gulf and ultimately take military action against Iran in 1988. These unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike,” Cotton said.
“You are comparing the tanker war in the eighties to now and saying that is the kind of military response you want to see?” Brennan asked.
“We can make a military response in a timely and a manner of our choosing, but, yes, unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Cotton reiterated.
Brennan asked if the President could take such action with executive power – without approval from Congress.
“Yes, Margaret, going back to President Washington and all the way down to President Trump, the fastest way to get the ‘fire and fury’ of the U.S. military unleashed on you is to interfere with the freedom of navigation on the open seas and in the air,” Cotton said. “That’s exactly what Iran is doing in one of the world’s most important strategic choke points. The President has the authorization to act to defend American interests.”
Cotton added that such action would be greatly different from U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, the action Cotton calls for is “retaliatory military strikes against Iran that make it clear we will not tolerate any kind of attacks on commercial shipping on the open seas.”
Both President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly blamed Iran for the June 13 attacks on the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courage and Norwegian tanker Front Altair, which were hit by a suspected torpedo.
Video released by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) showed a small Iranian vessel alongside the Kokuka Courage, and individuals aboard the boat attempting to remove an unexploded mine wedged in the boat’s hull after the attacks.
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) June 14, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last week that the U.S. had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran — [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”
“Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Zarif said of the attacks, Fox News reported.