Trump Says Iran ‘Put on Notice’ After Ballistic Missile Test

  • Trump aides decline to detail potential actions against Iran
  • Republicans have long vowed to undo 2015 nuclear accord

White House Puts Iran on Notice After Missile Test

President Donald Trump said Iran has been “put on notice” for testing ballistic missiles as his administration turned its focus to a key foreign-policy area the new president vowed to address after taking office.

“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump said in a Twitter message Thursday morning. “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion,” he said in another tweet.

Michael Flynn on Feb. 1.

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Wednesday that Iran’s actions showed it to be “in defiance” of the UN Security Council resolution passed after a nuclear deal was reached in 2015 between the Islamic Republic and six nations including the U.S. and Russia. Flynn’s warning came a day after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council that the missile test on Sunday was “absolutely unacceptable.”

Beyond the tougher words, the administration didn’t offer details of what policy or military options it may be considering. An administration official, who asked not to be identified, told reporters afterward that there are a range of options available to counter Tehran’s actions.

Read more: what’s next in Trump’s Row with Iran - a QuickTake Q&A

Oil advanced after Flynn’s comments, with the cost of a barrel rising 1.4 percent to $53.70 at 5:01 p.m. EST.

Trump’s election victory appears to be emboldening Republicans who have long criticized the 2015 accord but were stymied in their efforts to undermine it by the Obama administration.

"Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!" Trump said on Twitter Wednesday night.

Flynn’s comments came on the same day that Republicans in the House announced plans for legislation targeting Iran’s support for “terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missile program.” Among other steps, the measure would impose new sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and against people who “knowingly aid” its missile program. Similar legislation was previously introduced in the Senate.

Tempered Rhetoric

During the campaign, Trump called the nuclear accord “one of the dumbest deals ever” and said dismantling it would be a top priority. That rhetoric was tempered by James Mattis, the new Pentagon chief, during his confirmation hearing last month.

“It’s not a friendship treaty,” Mattis said at the time. “But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”

Former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, testifying to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, said ending the nuclear deal would leave the U.S. isolated. He suggested Congress and the White House consider making a statement of national policy that Iran won’t be allowed to enrich uranium to weapons grade instead.

After a decade of isolation under U.S.-led international sanctions, Iran last year began seeing greater interest from businesses and banks in its $370 billion economy as the nuclear deal took affect. But the agreement didn’t unwind all U.S. sanctions, and Iranian officials have repeatedly complained that many foreign companies and banks remain reluctant of running afoul of those restrictions, limiting new investment.

For a QuickTake on sanctions, click here

The dispute over the ballistic missile program centers on provisions in UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran says it’s in compliance because the missile tested isn’t designed to carry a nuclear weapon and it has already committed to suspending its nuclear program as part of the 2015 accord.

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said on Wednesday that the test was part of Iran’s ongoing defense program, according to the Tasnim news agency. “We have no other aim but to defend our interests and in this path we will neither seek permission nor allow anyone to interfere.”

Flynn said Sunday’s missile test is "the latest of a series of incidents" in which Iran continues "to threaten U.S. friends and allies in the region." He cited attacks on Saudi and Emirati vessels in the Red Sea by Houthi militants trained and supported by Iran.

"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 said. "Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened."

— With assistance by Erik Wasson, and Jennifer Epstein

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