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 CottonEx-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Republicans raise concerns about Olympians using digital yuan during Beijing Games 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 TrumpPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Has Trump beaten the system? 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."