WASHINGTON — National Security Advisor Mike Flynn said today Iran is “on notice” after ballistic missile tests and an attack on a Saudi vessel, though the White House did not detail what that notice meant.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked a Saudi navy patrol with three suicide boats near the port of Hodeidah on Monday, killing two Saudi sailors. According to the official Saudi Press Agency, the ship “dealt with the boats as necessary” but not before one of the boats “collided with the rear of the vessel, resulting in the explosion of the boat and a fire at the rear of the ship.”
Iran’s ballistic missile test — not the first since the nuclear agreement went into effect, but the first under the Trump administration — was medium-range, making it 630 miles before exploding.
Iran’s defense minister, Hossein Dehghan, admitted the test and told Tasnim news agency it “was in line with our plans and we will not allow foreigners to interfere in our defence affairs.”
“The test did not violate the nuclear deal or [UN Security Council] Resolution 2231,” he added.
Flynn, who appeared at today’s White House press briefing and issued a written statement, said both incidents underscored “what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”
Flynn countered that Iran did violate the UNSC resolution, which says Iran should “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
“These are just the latest of a series of incidents in the past six months in which Houthi forces that Iran has trained and armed have struck Emirati and Saudi vessels, and threatened U.S. and allied vessels transiting the Red Sea. In these and other similar activities, Iran continues to threaten U.S. friends and allies in the region,” Flynn continued. “The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms.”
“The Trump Administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk. President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama administration, as well as the United Nations – as being weak and ineffective.”
Flynn added that “instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened.”
“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” he said.
Asked what that meant, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters, “I won’t go any further.” He said there would be a national security briefing later.
Iran’s actions were called out by some members of Congress on Tuesday, with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the author of sanctions that rankled the White House and one of four Senate Democrats to vote against the nuclear deal, stressing that the incidents were Iran’s “latest effort to foment instability in the Middle East.”
“These latest test launches of Iranian ballistic missiles must not go unnoticed by the international community and the United States must lead the way by taking decisive actions against individuals and companies who provided any kind of material support for these by imposing and tightening sanctions,” Menendez said. “I will work with my colleagues in Congress, where we have a long tradition of bipartisan support to hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing actions, whether testing ballistic missiles, supporting terrorist proxy networks or violating basic human rights of its own citizens. I call on the full weight of the United States government not to overlook this provocative test and to firmly stand with our allies against Iranian aggression.”