Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said Iran’s unprovoked attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week “warrant a retaliatory military strike” during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.
“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 responses is warranted?” host Margaret Brennan asked.
“Well, Iran for 40 years has engaged in these kind 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 time 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 continued.
Brennan asked if the president could act without first seeking congressional approval.
“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. 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 said.
Cotton clarified he is not calling for action similar to that taken by the U.S. in Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather “retaliatory military strikes against Iran that make it clear we will not tolerate any kind of attacks on commercial shipping on the open seas.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was responsible for attacks on oil tankers cruising off the coast of Iran in the Gulf of Oman last week. Two tankers caught fire, forcing their crews to abandon ship.
The U.S. military published video which it said showed Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from one of the two ships.
Iran unsuccessfully tried to shoot down an American drone after it arrived at the site of the oil tanker attacks.