​Destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities would take ‘several days’ – US Senator Tom Cotton

US Senator Tom Cotton (Reuters/Larry Downing)
For a politician who just days earlier bizarrely remarked that “Iran already controls Tehran,” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s latest comments, about the brief time it would take to eliminate Iran’s nuclear plants, may be greeted with some skepticism.

Cotton, comparing the situation today in Iran with that of Iraq in 1998, said in a radio interview Tuesday that eliminating Iran's nuclear facilities would only take “several days” of US airstrikes.

“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox,” Cotton told the Family Research Council's Washington Watch program. “Several days of air and naval bombing against Iraq's weapons of mass destruction facilities, for exactly the same kind of behavior, for interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions.”

READ MORE: Obama ‘embarrassed’ for GOP over Iran letter as criticism rises

Cotton accused President Barack Obama of making the public choose between what could seem another big war and a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, which some believe is being used to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran has repeatedly denied the charges, saying its research is solely for civilian purposes.

“Even if military action were required… the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq. That's simply not the case,” Cotton said.

The Senator said the Republicans “simply” want Obama to be “as tough in the protection of America's national security interest as Bill Clinton was.”

Cotton was referring to the Clinton administration’s 1998 bombing of Iraq, a four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets coordinated by the United States and United Kingdom. The justification given for the bombardment was Baghdad’s alleged failure to comply with UN Security Council resolutions and its interference with United Nations Special Commission inspectors.

READ MORE: Tehran and world powers reach solutions on Iran nuclear program

Cotton, 37, the youngest serving member of Senate, grabbed headlines last month for a controversial letter that he and 48 other US Senators signed and addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” which stated that a nuclear agreement made without congressional approval might not last beyond the Obama administration and could be revoked by the “stroke of a pen.”

In an interview with Vice News, Obama said the senators’ interference in foreign diplomacy and their apparent lack of respect for the role of the presidency is “not how America does business.”

"I'm embarrassed for them," Obama told Vice founder Shane Smith. "For them to address a letter to the ayatollah – the supreme leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy – and their basic argument to them is: 'Don't deal with our president, because you can't trust him to follow through on an agreement'... That's close to unprecedented."

However, in explaining his decision to present the letter to the leaders of Iran while crucial talks were ongoing, Cotton flubbed basic Iranian geography.

In an interview on Face the Nation on Sunday, Cotton warned the United States must stand up to Iran’s “attempts to drive for regional dominance” because they “already control Tehran.”