SALT LAKE CITY — It would be a “grave mistake” for U.S. armed forces to respond to Iran’s apparent attack on a Saudi Arabian oil field over the weekend, Sen. Mitt Romney said Monday.
“Direct engagement by US military in response to Iran’s attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure would be a grave mistake. The US has continued arms sales so Saudi Arabia can defend itself. If SA responds against Iran attacks, the US should be ready to support in a non-kinetic role,” the Utah Republican tweeted.
Romney’s statement comes after a tweet from President Donald Trump on Sunday raised the specter of a U.S. military response.
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” the president tweeted.
A weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabia cut into global energy supplies and halved Saudi Arabia’s oil production, threatening to fuel a regional crisis, according to the Associated Press.
On Monday, the Trump administration suggested that Iran is behind the series of drone attacks at Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq plant and its Khurais oil field. Iran has denied the allegations. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed credit for the strikes.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said the evidence is “really clear” that Iran is responsible for the attacks. He said the Houthis don’t have the capability to carry out a strike with that kind of accuracy.
“I don’t expect nor would I ever support going to war with Iran over this, but we can’t ignore it either,’ he said. Trump still has several options on the table, including limited military strikes on Iran, Stewart said.
“I know that they’re considering everything,” he said. “I’m confident that they’re going to do something.”
Stewart, who spent more than a week in the Middle East last month, said he believes the incident might strengthen the coalition, including Europe, against Iran and might even bring along China and Russia. He said it’s important to build a coalition if the Trump administration decides to respond militarily, though it’s not essential.
The U.S. is going to have to take the lead, he said.
“We’re not going to let anyone veto our decision on this,” Stewart said. “We’ll do what we have to do at the end of the day, what we think is the right thing.”
He said he expects Iran to continue “nefarious activity” around the world until it comes to the negotiating table over its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons, something it has not shown a desire to do.
“Until that’s resolved, there’s no question they’re going to poke and to prod and to see what they can get away with and to try to goad the United States into a response that they think is beneficial to them,” Stewart said.