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Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, Rep. Chris Stewart say Trump made right call in backing off military strike on Iran

FILE - Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, leaves a Republican lunch meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Lee says he's convinced President Donald Trump made the right call to scuttle an attack on Iran after talking to him Friday.
FILE - Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, leaves a Republican lunch meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Lee says he's convinced President Donald Trump made the right call to scuttle an attack on Iran after talking to him Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Mike Lee says he's convinced President Donald Trump made the right call to scuttle a military attack on Iran after talking to him Friday.

"It is clear the Iranian regime is a threat, and that such threats cannot be eliminated by wishful thinking like President Obama’s reckless deal with Tehran," Lee said. "But neither does every provocation call for a military response."

The president said he was prepared to strike three sites that military leaders told him would kill 150 Iranians. He tweeted that the death of 150 people would not be “proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

"Sanctions are biting & more added last night," Trump tweeted.

Lee, R-Utah, said economic sanctions on Iran are working.

"Tehran has had to cut back support for international terrorist organizations, their criminal nuclear program, and their oil exports are plummeting. The Iranian economy has been crippled, and the Iranian people know it is their own leaders’ fault," he said in a statement.

Rep. Chris Stewart talks with students during campaigning at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct 16, 2018.
FILE - Rep. Chris Stewart talks with students during campaigning at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct 16, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also said Trump made the correct call in putting off any airstrike. He said it's clear Iran is deliberately trying to provoke the U.S. with "one attack after the other," including on ships in the Gulf, a Saudi airport and a pipeline.

"They are trying to get us to respond, and so it means that our retaliatory act has to be carefully planned and executed," he told reporters at a town hall meeting in Provo. "That’s why I think it was the right thing for the president to hold off for now, to consider the widest range of options and to pursue an action that will deter further Iranian aggression without falling into any kind of trap they might want to lay for us.”

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he appreciates Trump's commitment to a meaningful but proportionate response.

"Neither the US nor the International Community can ignore Iran's aggression. As one of the world's most violent state sponsors of terrorism, this falls into a pattern we've seen from them before," he tweeted.

Lee said Iran’s recent provocations are a "transparent attempt by a desperate" regime to distract the Iranian people from the true source of their troubles, adding it has been "playing a game" that served violent autocrats for decades at the expense of American interests.

"Changing the regime’s behavior is the right goal, but it’s not at all clear airstrikes will achieve it. They may unintentionally strengthen the regime by unifying the Iranian people. President Trump is finally changing the rules of the game, and is winning," he said.

Lee said if and when Iran's aggression demands a military response, that decision rests with Congress.