Sen. Cotton: Iran’s ‘Unprovoked Attack on Commercial Shipping Warrants Retaliatory Military Strikes’

By Patrick Goodenough

(CNSNews.com) – As the Trump administration works to convince allies that Iran was responsiblefor last week’s attack on two tankers near the Persian Gulf, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Sunday that “this unprovoked attack on commercial shipping warrants retaliatory military strikes.”

“The fastest way to get the fire and fury of the U.S. military unleashed on you is to interfere with the freedom of navigation on the open seas and in the air,” Cotton told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“That’s exactly what Iran is doing in one of the world’s most important strategic chokepoints.”

On the same program, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. was “considering a full range of options” in response to recent events, adding that the administration was confident that it could “take a set of actions that can restore deterrence – which is our mission set.”

Asked whether that full range of options includes a military response, Pompeo replied, “Of course.”

Last Thursday morning two tankers about ten nautical miles apart caught fire after explosions in the Gulf of Oman, south of the Strait of Hormuz.

The 23 sailors onboard the Norwegian-owned Front Altair were rescued by a passing cargo ship, but after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) patrol boats surrounded that ship it handed the crew over to the Iranians, who took the mostly Filipino and Russian sailors to the nearby Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. They were allowed to leave at the weekend.

The 21-person crew of the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous were evacuated by a Dutch tug, and then transferred to the USS Bainbridge, a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer. According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), an IRGC patrol boat had evidently been trying to reach the Dutch tug ahead of the U.S. warship in order to get that crew as well, but failed to do so.

About five hours later, a U.S. surveillance drone filmed personnel in an IRGC patrol boast appearing to remove an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of Kokuka Courageous, CENTCOM reported.

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