‘We will sink your navy’: Sen. Sullivan advocates more aggressive stance to deter Iran

Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses the Alaska Legislature on Feb. 21, 2024 (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Sen. Dan Sullivan said the Biden administration should sink Iran’s navy, or at least threaten to, if Iran continues to help the Houthis attack American ships near Yemen.

“So my suggestion to the administration is just give the Iranians one warning — ‘next time a missile comes to try to kill American sailors and you’re giving intel to the Houthis on it, we will sink your navy,'” Sullivan said Wednesday. “We could sink the Iranian navy in about two hours. And my view is we should do it.”

Sullivan said it would deter further attacks on U.S. warships. He made the remarks in the Alaska House Chamber, in the customary question-and-answer session following his annual address to the state Legislature.

At a press conference afterward, Sullivan toned down his position. He said he meant the U.S. should sink Iranian spy ships.

“I didn’t mean the whole Iranian navy. I meant, give them a covert or overt warning: If you’re targeting American warships anymore with your navy vessels, we will sink those vessels,” he said.

Sullivan’s comments on Iran were a departure from the theme of his address, which was to laud Alaska’s successes in resource development and military investment in the face of naysayers.

But they are consistent with his bedrock belief in a strong military and that the U.S. should play a large role on the global stage. Sullivan, for instance, voted for the Ukraine aid bill this month, even as former President Donald Trump pulls a majority of Sullivan’s Republican colleagues in the Senate away from global leadership.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, in her address to the Legislature last week, called both President Joe Biden and Trump, the like Republican nominee, “deeply flawed.”

Sullivan was critical of Biden but didn’t directly discuss the upcoming presidential election. In 2016, Sullivan withdrew his support of Trump’s candidacy after a recording emerged of him bragging about vulgar attacks on women. Sullivan no longer views Trump’s behavior as disqualifying.

“Well, look, I think President Trump’s record on Alaska has been fantastic,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan has said he’ll support Trump if he’s the Republican nominee.

Congresswoman Mary Peltola is scheduled to address the Legislature on Monday.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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