Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is giving credibility to the Trump administration’s claims of heightened Iranian activity, but he says he worries about who is provoking whom in the “volatile” situation.
“I don’t think there’s faulty intel here necessarily. I think the intel may be accurate,” Maine’s King said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day” during an interview with Alisyn Camerota. “But the unanswered question again is, are they reacting to our assertions of action in the Middle East or are we reacting to them? That’s an unanswered question for me.”
CNN first reported last week on US intelligence showing Iran moving short-range ballistic missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf — and that intelligence was one of the critical reasons the US decided to move an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the region.
King said he reviewed some of the intelligence on Tuesday but has not seen the photographs, reported by the New York Times, of the boats in the Persian Gulf containing Iranian missiles, which led to the White House escalating its warnings about Iran.
While he said he can’t reveal what he’s reviewed in a classified briefing, King told CNN that “a lot of public reporting about heightened Iranian activity in the region, particularly in Iraq” is “accurate.”
But the Maine senator said he’s worried about “who is provoking whom?”
He pointed to the Trump administration’s decisions to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, place more sanctions on Iran, and move US military assets to the Middle East.
“I think it’s a very, very volatile, dangerous situation. I am gravely concerned because of the possibility of miscalculation, misunderstanding, misreading of some event and all of the sudden you’re on the ladder of escalation that could be dangerous for this country and for the Middle East,” King said.
The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump wants a diplomatic approach to Iran and is frustrated with his top advisers, including national security adviser John Bolton, who the President feels will rush US into a military confrontation with Iran.
King told CNN that Trump is right to “express a little restraint on some of his advisers who seem to be getting us into a position where something pretty awful could happen.”
On Thursday, The Trump administration will provide a classified briefing for senior lawmakers on the intelligence that shows Iranian missiles being moved onto boats in the Persian Gulf.