WASHINGTON: A US senator close to President Donald Trump said Monday that Iran was behind recent security incidents in the Middle East and urged an “overwhelming military response” for any actions against US interests.
Senator Lindsey Graham said he was briefed on tensions with Tehran by National Security Advisor John Bolton, a longtime hawk who called for an attack on Iran before taking his White House job.
“It is clear that over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq,” Graham tweeted.
“If the Iranian threats against American personnel and interests are activated we must deliver an overwhelming military response,” wrote the Republican from South Carolina.
A Democratic lawmaker, Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, quickly challenged Graham and said he had seen the same intelligence.
“That is not what is being said. This is total information bias to draw the conclusion he wants for himself and the media,” Gallego tweeted.
Last week Yemen´s Huthi rebels — who are backed by Iran and are being bombarded by US ally Saudi Arabia — claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a key oil pipeline inside the kingdom.
The incident came after the mysterious sabotage of four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The United States has not officially blamed Iran for the incidents but has repeatedly accused Tehran of plotting attacks, especially in Iraq, where Tehran holds wide influence.
Trump has said he does not want war but tweeted on Sunday: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again.”
Graham, an enthusiastic supporter of US military interventions, said that Trump should “stand firm.”
Critics say Iran is making a predictable response to the United States, which has tried to stop all of its oil sales and designated its elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.
Trump a year ago withdrew the United States from a multinational accord still backed by European allies under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promised sanctions relief.