Cicilline Blames Trump for Iran Seizing Tanker, Despite Not Being Briefed About Attack

Seizure of oil tanker is 'inevitable result' of withdrawing from Iran deal

July 19, 2019

Rep. David Cicilline (D., R.I.) on Friday blamed President Donald Trump for a British oil tanker being seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, saying it was the "inevitable result" of the administration withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

Cicilline appeared on CNN's Situation Room, where fill-in host Brianna Keilar noted he was on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and asked him whether the committee had been briefed on the attack.

"We have not. These events have just happened, but this is a very serious and dangerous situation. Frankly, it is in part the inevitable result of a failed policy by this administration," Cicilline said. "The president walked away from the Iran deal, instituted additional sanctions on Iran with really no strategy of what to do after that, so Iran has engaged in a lot of aggressive behavior, now against one of our allies and there doesn't seem to be a strategy or a plan in place as to how we move forward."

"We have to deescalate the situation. We have to obviously work closely with our allies in the region, but this is the problem of ripping up an agreement that prevented Iran from becoming a nuclear power that our allies worked on with us with all those months without something to replace it, or even a strategy with an endgame," Cicilline continued.

Trump has kept up the pressure on Iran and called the U.K a "very great ally" while speaking with reporters earlier in the afternoon, adding that they have an "agreement" with them.

"We will be working the U.K. They'll have a new prime minister soon, which is a good thing and we'll be working with the U.K., but we have no written agreement, but I think we have an agreement, which is longstanding," Trump said. "This only goes to show what I'm saying about Iran—trouble—nothing but trouble."

"Remember this, the ridiculous agreement made by President Obama expires in a very short period of time. It was a short-term agreement," Trump continued. "When you're dealing in countries, you have to deal in 50 years and 100 years. You don't deal in the short-term. That was a ridiculous agreement and it goes to show you I was right about Iran."

The Justice Department announced earlier this week that an Iranian national was caught by the Trump administration attempting to smuggle materials outside of the United States that can be used to enrich uranium, a key component of a nuclear weapon, according to a Washington Free Beacon report.

"[Behzad] Pourghannad is alleged to have sought to procure for Iran large amounts of carbon fiber—a commodity that can be used in the enrichment of uranium," Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement. "U.S. sanctions exist to prevent behavior, like this, which endangers our country, and the Department is committed to vigorously enforcing them. Pourghannad and others who would attempt to thwart these laws need to know that their actions, which benefit Iran’s destabilizing efforts and make Americans less safe, will not go unpunished."