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 CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senator calls reporting on Russia bounties 'absolutely inaccurate' after White House briefing New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in 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 Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' 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."