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GOP senator’s suggestion to Biden on Red Sea: Threaten to sink Iranian ships

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The U.S. should threaten to sink Iranian ships if the Houthis keep attacking American troops in the Red Sea, a Armed Services GOP senator recommended Friday.

In a letter to President Joe Biden, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) argued the Iran-backed, U.S.-designated terrorist group in Yemen has not been deterred from targeting commercial ships, despite numerous U.S. attacks to destroy their capabilities. The only way to stop the Houthis’ assaults, Sullivan wrote: Let Iran know it would face direct consequences for continued violence.

“Tell Iran that the next Houthi missile or drone launched at an American ship will result in the sinking of Iran’s spy ships that target our Navy,” the senator wrote in the letter. “If we ever expect Tehran to call off its terrorist proxies and make deterrence more than a temporary respite, Iran must be made to pay a price.”

Sullivan’s demand comes after a SASC hearing last week where Gen. Erik Kurilla, chief of U.S. Central Command, said Iran was not deterred from assisting Houthi strikes on U.S. military and civilian targets.

“They are not paying the cost,” he said. “There has to be cost in position on Iran.”

Last week, the Houthis struck a commercial vessel, killing three of its crew members. In a separate attack two days later, American forces also shot down 28 drones and missiles. No U.S. or allied vessels were damaged.

Sullivan suggested Kurilla could order attacks to sink Iranian vessels after such an event, since Iran is arming and financing the Houthis. The general said that wasn’t accurate and that Biden would have to issue an order for the operation.

Sullivan asked the CENTCOM commander if he had recommended sinking Iranian ships to Biden. “I provide options ranging everything from cyber to kinetic,” Kurilla answered, “and I also identify the risk of escalation and all of those options.”