Sen. Tom Cotton on Sunday said militarily strikes against Iran last week were “warranted” and urged the administration to be skeptical when dealing with Tehran.
“Obviously I think retaliatory strikes were warranted,” the Arkansas Republican, a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“What I see is Iran steadily marching up the escalation chain,” he added. “I fear that if Iran doesn’t have a firm set of boundaries drawn around its behavior, we’re going to see an attack on a U.S. ship or a U.S. manned aircraft.”
Cotton said he hoped that such an incident wouldn’t happen, but noted Iran has a “long history” of escalation in the region.
President Donald Trump has confirmed he called off a retaliatory strike on Iran after it downed an unmanned drone. The last-minute decision was made after learning of the strike’s potential death toll, according to Trump.
Cotton’s remarks come a week after he urged the White House to strike Iran for allegedly attacking two oil tankers. “Unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Cotton, who has offered a hard-line rationale for the president to take action, said one of the reasons Tehran is “lashing out” is because of the “maximum pressure” campaign the administration has put on the country, driving its economy to “near-depression levels of activity.”
He said the response to Iran’s threat to violate the enrich uranium beyond the limits set by the Obama-era nuclear deal is up to the European nations in the Iran nuclear deal. Cotton said the Europeans should consider Trump’s restraint last week as an “opening” to “double-down” on economic sanctions.
Cotton said the administration’s policy Iran to date has made “reasonable requests” but cautioned the White House against hoping the regime would completely change its behavior.
“A healthy dose of skepticism is warranted when you’re dealing with regimes like the Ayatollah‘s,” according to Cotton.
CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to reflect Tom Cotton’s position.