US military leaders have presented President Donald Trump with a plan to strike Iranian oil facilities in response to Tehran’s alleged role in attacks on Saudi plants, media reported.
US military leaders during a national security meeting on Monday presented Trump with various retaliatory actions including cyber-attacks and physical strikes, NBC News reported on Tuesday citing US officials briefed on the meeting.
Politico reported on Tuesday, citing people close to Trump, that he is against striking Iran because he wants to live up to his campaign promise to keep the United States out of any new foreign conflicts. Moreover, it said Trump is worried a war with Iran could have economic consequences.
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford told reporters on Tuesday that US Central Command has sent forensic specialists to assist Saudi Arabia with its assessment of the incident.
He also said the United States does not have an “unblinking eye” over the Middle East, adding that US intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is focused on threats against the United States and will not always see everything that goes on in the region.
Later, Congressman Eliot Engel said in a statement that US President needs an authorization vote from Congress before launching any attack on Iran in retaliation for the recent strikes against Saudi oil facilities.
“The Constitution is clear: unless the United States is attacked first, the President needs authorization from Congress before attacking Iran, even if he is acting in support of one of our partners,” Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
The Trump administration’s lack of a strategy had generated escalation and confusion in the Middle East, Engel maintained.
US Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told MSNBC news on Tuesday that he would file a war powers resolution to force an immediate vote to stymie any unauthorized military action against Iran.
Senator Dick Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democratic lawmaker in the chamber, earlier in the day said that the United States does not have a security treaty with Saudi Arabia and hence has no commitment to defend them even if the evidence reveals the country was attacked by Iran.
Over the weekend, Saudi Aramco had to close two of its compounds, the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities, after they were hit by drones and then caught fire. The incident led to a cut in oil production totaling 5.7 million barrels per day – about half of Saudi Arabia’s daily oil output. The closure of oil facilities triggered a surge of oil prices worldwide.