As tensions between Iran and the United States ratcheted up, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a warning to the leaders of the Middle Eastern country from his office in Columbia: if it comes to war, they will lose.
“I don’t want a war with Iran, but I want Iran to understand if they choose to attack us, there will be a war and they will lose it,” the Seneca Republican said Friday, talking to reporters in his Columbia office.
While Graham hardly was advocating for another military entanglement in the region, he said the U.S. would likely retaliate if Iran attacked the country.
“I want Iran to know that their days of running wild in the Mideast are over,” South Carolina’s senior senator said Friday.
Graham’s comments have come amid speculations that the United States may be close to a conflict with Iran. President Trump told advisers Thursday he did not want to go to war with the country, according to reports from Reuters and the New York Times, but he added he would act to protect U.S. interests in the region.
Tension flared after U.S. intelligence services heard of rising threats from Iranian forces and subsequently sent a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber group to the area, according to USA TODAY. The Pentagon announced the move was “to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities.”
The president pulled several members of the diplomatic staff from the Baghdad embassy after several oil tankers were attacked near Fajairah, Reuters reported. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are suspects in the case, the wire service also reported.
Iran also suspended any commitments leaders were held to under the nuclear deal signed in 2015, which the U.S. is no longer a party to. The deal attempted to curb Iran’s nuclear production in exchange for sanction relief.
Graham praised President Donald Trump from withdrawing the U.S. from the deal, but criticized his handling of the most recent parts of the conflict.
“I don’t think the president should be asking the Ayatollah to call him. It should be the other way around,” Graham said, adding that the U.S. should stop sending “mixed messages.”
The senator also called for a deal with the country that would include suspending nuclear production that could eventually birth a bomb, ending arming groups like Hezbollah, ceasing threats to Israel and stopping “spreading their form of Islam.”
“A good deal will include them (stopping) becoming the biggest state sponsor of terrorism,” Graham added. “... Anything short of that would be a bad deal.”