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US-Iran tension: Toomey backs Trump, Casey calls his diplomacy ‘reckless’

May 20, 2019 - 3:02 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators are divided on President Donald Trump amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran.

Pennsylvania's Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey says he has recently read intelligence reports on Iran.

“Let me put it to you this way, since I can't disclose the exact nature of this threat. If you see a report that the Iranian regime is seriously considering an imminent attack on American personal or American assets you should take that very very seriously,” he told  KYW Newsradio.

On Monday, Trump warned Iran not to threaten the United States again or it'll face its "official end," shortly after a rocket had landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

In light of that warning, Toomey says he stands by the President.

“I fully support the President's decision to deploy military assets to the Persian Gulf for the purpose of deterring Iran,” he said.

However, Toomey says he thinks Trump is trying to deter Iran from engaging the U.S. with military force.

“I think that's what the President's Tweet is probably about, that's what a carrier group is about to send a message to Iran — don’t make a foolish mistake here, and attack and kill Americans,” he said. “If they were to make such a mistake, there has to be a very severe response so that they learn that's a really bad idea.”

Toomey also says Iran cannot be taken lightly.

Related: Trump warns Iran not to threaten US or it will face 'end'

“There is a history of this regime attacking Americans, including killing over  500 American soldiers with IEDs that were designed and manufactured exactly by that purpose by the Iranian regime,” he said.

Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says Trump appears to be provoking a war with Iran instead of trying to avoid one.

"I'm afraid the president, and interestingly his team sometimes more than he, seems to be provoking the possibility of war rather than trying to avoid it," he told KYW Newsradio.

Casey says too often, Trump conducts diplomacy through Twitter — a practice Casey calls "dangerous and reckless."

"It's dangerous.  It's reckless.  When it comes to these issues, you have to be prudent and sober in how your approach difficult issues," he said.

According to Casey, the U.S. has a series of sanctions in place to hold Iran accountable, and he says one positive thing is that the America has plenty of allies against Iran.

"We have a number of policies in place — sanctions and other policies — that have been in place for years to hold the Iranian regime accountable,” he said. “They are the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world."

Casey say he would be getting an intelligence briefing Tuesday and that all of that information needs to be considered before any decisions about future actions are made.   

"There's a lot we can do to push back on Iranian aggression without provoking a war, without declaring a war and without committing our fighting men and women to do that," he said. "Unfortunately, it seems like Mr. Bolton (National Security Advisor John Bolton) and others want to provoke us into a conflict,” Casey said.

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KYW Newsradio's Mike DeNardo and Justin Udo contributed to this report.