By Zachary Stieber
“Let me say tonight if you are watching television in Iran. I just got off the phone with the president. Your fate is in your own hands in terms of the regime’s economic viability,” Graham said during a late Tuesday appearance on Fox News’s “Hannity.”
“You continue this [expletive], you’re going to wake up one day out of the oil business,” he said.
Iran fired the missiles five days after a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, spurring vows of revenge from the Islamic regime’s leaders.
“This was an act of war,” Graham said. “By any reasonable definition. The missiles were launched from Iran. The president has all the authority he needs under Article II to respond.”
“It was an act of war by the regime that for the last 40 years has been a cancer in the Mideast. When they say they want to destroy Israel, they are not kidding. They’re the largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
Graham, who also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump would take appropriate action when he’s ready.
“The president has to do a couple things tonight. What can I do to restore deterrence to make sure this doesn’t happen again? He doesn’t want regime change,” Graham said.
“He wants the behavior of the regime to change in three areas: Their ballistic missile program needs to change, they need to stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism, and we need a nuclear deal that does not ensure them a pathway to a bomb like [President Barack] Obama.”
“Trump is not going to be conned by the Iranians,” he said.
He later added: “Here’s what the president, I think, understands about the Iranians: they’re not going to change until you make them change. Here’s what he’s going to be thinking about tonight: ‘What do I need to do tomorrow or the next day to get them back into a deterrent mode so they’ll leave us alone, and how do I get them to change their missile program to get a better deal on their nuclear program so they won’t have a pathway to a bomb, and what can I do to stop them from being the largest state sponsor of terrorism.’ The price to be paid by the Iranians has to go up.”
The Pentagon said that it was “working on initial battle assessments” after the more than a dozen ballistic missiles struck U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq, stating, “It is clear these missiles were launched from Iran.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether there were any casualties from the missile strikes.
The White House rebutted reports that Trump was going to address the nation late Jan. 7, and Trump issued a statement via his favored platform, Twitter.
“All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!” he wrote.
“We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
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