US senator threatens to force Iran ‘out of oil business’
US Senator Lindsey Graham has warned Iran that the American military could target its oil industry in response to any escalation in the Middle East. The lawmaker said he would put forward a resolution to this effect, citing concerns that the Tehran-backed Hezbollah could join the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Appearing on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday, Graham described Hezbollah as a “proxy of Iran” and claimed that a “massive attack on Israel” by the Lebanon-based militant group would pose an “existential” threat to the Jewish state.
The Republican foreign policy hawk warned that he could introduce a resolution in the Senate “to allow military action by the United States in conjunction with Israel to knock Iran out of the oil business.”
“Iran, if you escalate this war, we’re coming for you,” Graham concluded.
Appearing on Al Jazeera on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian cautioned that “it is highly probable that many other fronts will be opened” unless Israel stops striking Gaza. He also urged Muslim nations to support the Palestinian cause, echoing earlier calls by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
On Saturday, Amir-Abdollahian hinted that Hezbollah could strike northern Israel, causing a “huge earthquake.” According to two diplomatic sources cited by Axios, Iran will respond if Israel goes ahead with a ground offensive in Gaza.
However, Reuters on Sunday quoted Iranian representatives at the UN as clarifying that “Iran’s armed forces will not engage” unless directly attacked by Israel first.
On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the deployment of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser to the Eastern Mediterranean, in addition to the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier group already in the region.
Austin explained that the move was aimed at deterring “any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war.”
At the same time, US President Joe Biden has acknowledged that “at this point” there is “no clear evidence” that Tehran helped Hamas carry out its attack on Israel on October 7.