GOP senator: Unprovoked attacks on oil tankers 'warrant a retaliatory military strike'

GOP senator: Unprovoked attacks on oil tankers 'warrant a retaliatory military strike'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonLawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei Five things to know about Iran's breaches of the nuclear deal Hillicon Valley: Trump gets pushback after reversing course on Huawei | China installing surveillance apps on visitors' phones | Internet provider Cloudflare suffers outage | Consumer groups look to stop Facebook cryptocurrency MORE (R-Ark.) on Sunday called said unprovoked attacks on oil tankers the U.S. government has blamed on Iran "warrant a retaliatory military strike."

"These unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike," Cotton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” while insisting President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE had the power to order such a strike without congressional approval.

“The president has the authorization to act to defend American interests,” he said.

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A military strike, Cotton added, “will make it clear we will not tolerate any kind of attacks on commercial shipping on the open seas.”

Cotton, an Iraq War veteran, waved off comparisons to the faulty intelligence about Baghdad’s weapons capabilities that were the major justification for the Iraq War, saying that, unlike that intelligence, “there’s not much to assess right here.”

U.S. Central Command last week released a video claiming it shows Iranians removing a magnetic mine from the tanker in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. allies and the owner of the Japanese tanker have both disputed the U.S. account.

“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Oslo last week.

The president of a company that owns one of the damaged tankers also expressed doubt the damage was caused by a mine.  

Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo, also said in Tokyo last week that he does not believe "there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship."