US puts Iran 'on notice' after missile test, won't elaborate

Michael Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser, said the administration is considering a "range of options" for a response.

Carolyn Kaster/AP
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Flynn said the administration is putting Iran "on notice" after it tested a ballistic missile.

The White House issued a cryptic warning Wednesday that the U.S. will act against Iran unless it stops testing ballistic missiles and supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen, but declined to say what retaliatory actions the U.S. would pursue.

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, forcefully denounced Iran's behavior in his first public remarks since Trump took office. He accused Iran of threatening U.S. allies and spreading instability throughout the Middle East while faulting the Obama administration for doing too little to stop the Islamic Republic.

"As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice," Mr. Flynn said from the White House podium.

On notice for what, Flynn didn't say. Senior Trump administration officials said they were actively considering a "range of options" including economic measures and increased support for Iran's regional adversaries. The officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, declined repeatedly to say whether military action was being considered.

The warning was an early manifestation of President Trump's promise of a tougher American approach to Iran. Yet administration officials emphasized that their allegations were unrelated to Iran's obligations under the Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama and world leaders negotiated. Though Flynn noted Trump has criticized that deal, officials declined to say whether Trump planned to follow through on his campaign pledge to renegotiate it.

"The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran's malign actions — including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms," Flynn said.

The White House also faulted Iran for backing Houthi rebels in Yemen who on Tuesday claimed a successful missile strike against a warship belonging to a Saudi-led coalition fighting to reinstall Yemen's internationally recognized government. The media arm of the Shiite rebels said the vessel was believed to belong to the Saudi Arabian navy.

Administration officials said Iran was providing key support by arming, training and financing the rebels, with a goal of leveraging its relationship with the Houthis to "build a long-term presence in Yemen."

The White House said the goal in putting Iran "on notice" was to signal to Tehran that it needed to rethink its behavior. Flynn said Iran specifically violated the U.N.'s ban on "activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."

Iran's Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan confirmed Wednesday that Iran conducted a missile test, but did not say when the test was carried out or specify the type of missile. He insisted it wasn't a violation of U.N. resolutions.

The U.S. said the test was of a medium-range ballistic missile. It ended with a "failed" re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, said a U.S. defense official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Reports of the test emerged after Trump signed an executive order last week temporarily suspending immigration from Iran and six other majority-Muslim countries.

On one point, the U.S. and Iran agree: The test didn't violate the nuclear deal itself.

Ballistic missile testing wasn't explicitly included in the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers. But as part of the final negotiations, Iran agreed to an eight-year extension of a U.N. ban on ballistic missile development. The U.N. Security Council later endorsed the agreement, calling on Iran not to carry out such tests. But Iran has flouted the prohibition regularly in the past year-and-a-half, drawing sanctions from the U.S. but also diplomatic cover from Russia.

At America's request, the U.N. Security Council held a session Tuesday to address the missile test. The council referred the matter to its committee on Iran and asked for an investigation.

Iran has long boasted of having missiles that can travel 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), putting much of the Middle East, including Israel, in range. Such capability would also put U.S. bases in the region in danger. Iran says its missiles are key to deterring a U.S. or Israeli attack.

In March, Iran test-fired two ballistic missiles. One was emblazoned with the phrase "Israel must be wiped out" in Hebrew, sparking international outcry.

___

Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.