- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee said the Trump administration’s pressure campaign on Iran is “producing a reaction.”

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island said on the Senate floor Tuesday that a counter-reaction from Iran in response to expanding U.S. sanctions and military pressure “could be more and more dangerous to our interests, it could escalate.”

President Trump on Monday hit Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top military officials with fresh sanctions in the wake of Tehran’s shoot-down of a U.S. Navy surveillance drone, calling the financial penalties “a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”

Days after he called off a retaliatory military strike against Iran, Mr. Trump also challenged other nations to step up security for oil shipping in the dangerous Persian Gulf region or to start paying the U.S. military for protecting the vital passage for much of the world’s energy supply. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue with the king and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia in a meeting there Monday.

Mr. Reed warned that an Iranian response “could create a situation where the question of armed conflict with Iran is not theoretical at all, but something that we have to confront.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Tuesday criticized Mr. Trump’s “outrageous and idiotic” sanctions placed on Iran’s government officials.

“The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” Mr. Rouhani said.

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