Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that he believes Iran is behind recent attacks on pipelines and ships around the Middle East, and warned that Tehran should expect “an overwhelming military response” if it harms “American personnel and interests” in the region.
“Just received a briefing from National Security Advisor [John] Bolton about escalating tensions with Iran,” the South Carolina Republican wrote on Twitter. “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.”
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“The fault lies with the Iranians, not the United States or any other nation,” Graham continued. “If the Iranian threats against American personnel and interests are activated we must deliver an overwhelming military response. Stand firm Mr. President.”
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been ramping up in recent weeks. Bolton announced the deployment of a Navy strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East earlier this month, saying it would send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran’s government.
Members of Congress, including Graham, had expressed frustration that they were out of the loop on what intelligence the Trump administration was seeing on Iran. After briefings on Capitol Hill last week, Democrats voiced fears that Trump could slide into war with Iran, while Republicans expressed concerns about Iran’s actions.
Senior administration officials including acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford are planning to provide all members of Congress briefings on Iran beginning as soon as Tuesday.
The New York Times reported last week that Shanahan presented President Donald Trump’s national security team with a plan to deploy as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East in response to U.S. intelligence that suggested Iran might be planning attacks on American people and facilities in the region.
Trump, however, said that there was no such plan and that he would send “a hell of a lot more troops than that” if he decided to project a more aggressive posture toward Tehran.
Trump again threatened Iran’s government on Sunday, warning that a military conflict would bring about “the official end” of the Middle Eastern nation.