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Biden ‘doesn’t believe’ that Iran attack ‘needs’ to escalate into wider war, White House official says


National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Sunday said President Joe Biden doesn’t “believe” that Iran’s overnight attacks against Israel need to escalate into a wider war in the Middle East.

“The President doesn’t believe that it needs to move in that direction whatsoever,” Kirby said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

His remarks came hours after Iran launched an attack on Israel with more than 300 missiles and drones. The U.S. helped Israel defend against the attack, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement late Saturday, and just a “few” of the ballistic missiles fired from Iran landed inside Israel, an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said.

Most of the cruise missiles launched by Iran were intercepted by Israeli fighter jets, the spokesperson said. It was the first time Iran had launched a direct military attack against Israel.

Kirby also declined to “get into hypotheticals” about whether the U.S. would back an Israeli counterattack against Iran.

“Israel hasn’t made any decisions that I’m aware of about what the next step is,” Kirby told moderator Kristen Welker.

Asked about whether the Biden administration has a “red line” for getting directly involved in a conflict against Iran, Kirby declined to identify one, saying, “I mean … we could sit here all day talking about what is and what isn’t a red line. I’m not going to do that.”

House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, criticized Kirby’s comments, by saying, “There should be a red line.”

“I think John Kirby, though, articulated very well … the unfortunate, I think, fallacies in the Biden administration’s policies,” Turner, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told Welker, adding, “Unfortunately, the Biden Administration’s view is that if you use missile defense, an attack didn’t happen.”

“You just heard John Kirby articulate that the defense was successful, and then almost as if a dismissal of the fact that Iran has attacked Israel directly,” Turner added.

He called on the Biden administration to “take seriously that this attack has happened. It’s unprecedented and certainly, it needs to be viewed as an escalation.” 

Still, Turner agreed, “I don’t think at this point that the United States should be engaged in a military action directly at Iran.”

Both Turner and Kirby hailed the joint effort between Israel and the U.S. to use missile defense systems to guard against almost all of the incoming Iranian attacks.

Kirby said that the effort was, “an incredible military achievement by Israel” and added, “quite frankly, the United States and other partners that helped Israel defend itself against more than 300 drones and missiles. I mean, it’s just an extraordinary example of military superiority.”

Turner added, “The United States and Israel jointly developed missile defense technology that went to work last night and it was proven to be successful.”


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