Sullivan Tells Biden: Threaten to Sink Iranian Spy Ships

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), urged President Biden in a letter on Friday to threaten to sink Iranian spy ships in the Red Sea if the Houthis continue their attack on American service members. The recommendation follows the Senate Armed Service Committee testimony of General Erik Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, who said recent U.S. strikes on Iranian proxies in the region “sent a very strong deterrent message” but that Iran is not paying a sufficient cost for strikes orchestrated against American troops.

The letter was first featured in a Politico article by national security reporter Alexander Ward.

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Mr. President:

Last week, General Eric Kurilla, Commander of U.S. Central Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that recent U.S. strikes on Iranian proxies in the region “sent a very strong deterrent message” citing the absence of an attack for 32 days in Iraq or Syria. As General Kurilla also noted, however, “deterrence is always temporary” and Houthi terrorists in Yemen have not been as effectively deterred.

In fact, the Houthis grow bolder by the day.

On Friday, the Iranian-backed Houthis once again launched a massive barrage of 28 drones and missiles in the Red Sea, trying to sink American ships. These terrorists are trying every day to kill U.S. sailors from places like Alaska and Delaware, and at some point, they might succeed—one of their missiles could sneak past our missile defenses and sink a vessel. Iranian spy ships are providing the Houthis with targeting information to sink American ships and kill U.S. sailors and Marines.

Yet, Iran is facing zero consequences for this collusion.

Just as I did in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, I call for you, Mr. President, to take real action on deterring Iran before it’s too late. Tell Iran that the next Houthi missile or drone launched at an American ship will result in the sinking of Iran’s spy ships that target our Navy. With all due respect, that this hasn’t already happened, with so many American lives on the line is the continuation of a clearly failed policy of appeasement.

If we ever expect Tehran to call off its terrorist proxies and make deterrence more than a temporary respite, Iran must be made to pay a price.



  1. On November 2, 2023, Sen. Sullivan led 12 of his Senate Republican colleagues in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, demanding the Biden administration press for a broader, more permanent framework of sanctions on Iran from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 
  2. On November 14, 2023, Sens. Sullivan and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and a number of their Senate colleagues, introduced a resolution emphasizing the fact that deterrence is most credible when the President keeps all options on the table, including the use of military force, to deter attacks from Iran and its proxies.
  3. On December 12, 2023, Sen. Sullivan and a number of his colleagues again sent a letter to Secretary Blinken, urging him to re-designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), as well as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT).
  4. On January 12, 2024, Sen. Sullivan expressed his support for the strikes on the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which he said were “long overdue.”
  5. On January 12, 2024, in an interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker, Sen. Sullivan reiterated his call on the Biden administration to reestablish deterrence with regard to Iran, and argued that tougher action against Iran and its proxies will help avoid a wider war, not appeasement.
  6. On January 17, 2024, Sen. Sullivan said the decision to redesignate the Houthi rebels as an SDGT is a “step forward” that “doesn’t go far enough.”
  7. On January 28, 2024, Sen. Sullivan called for a “clear, lethal and overwhelming response” to the strike carried out by Iran-backed terrorist proxies that killed 3 U.S. service members and wounded dozens of others.
  8. On January 29, 2024, in an interview on Fox News Channel, Sen. Sullivan criticized the Biden administration for pursuing an appeasement strategy toward Iran, and called for a return to the aggressive deterrence policies enacted during the Trump administration.
  9. On February 2, 2024, Sen. Sullivan urged the Biden administration to adopt a multi-faceted strategy against Iran including military and non-military action to reestablish deterrence in the Middle East.
  10. On February 13, 2024, Sen. Sullivan voted with 69 of his fellow senators to pass legislation to strengthen America’s defense industrial base and provide weapons to America’s allies facing threats abroad.
  11. On February 15, 2024, Sen. Sullivan led the Senate Republicans at the Munich Security Conference.
  12. On March 3, 2024, in an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation”, Sen. Sullivan warned that the Biden administration’s approach to national security is “not serious,” has projected “weakness,” and has resulted in “chaos” around the world.
  13. On March 12, Sen. Sullivan criticized President Biden’s inflation-adjusted cuts to the Fiscal Year 2025 budget request for defense spending.

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