At today’s White House press briefing National Security Advisor Michael Flynn read a statement that took note of recent Iranian provocations. Flynn specifically cited two sets of Iranian actions that he suggested the Iranians had been allowed to conduct with relative impunity in recent years: Iranian ballistic missile launches and Iran’s proxies in Yemen attacking naval vessels in the Red Sea. Flynn put Iran “on notice,” without further explanation. Politico has posted video and more here.
Flynn’s statement provides:
Recent Iranian actions, including a provocative ballistic missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel conducted by Iran-supported Houthi militants, underscore what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.
The recent ballistic missile launch is also in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran “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.
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.
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.
Omri Ceren provides the following background (footnotes omitted):
Iran conducted a ballistic missile test over the weekend, the latest of roughly a dozen launches they’ve conducted since the nuclear deal was announced and at least the second time they’ve launched ballistic missiles since President Trump was elected. Before the deal was implemented in January 2016 Obama administration officials told Congress that such launches would be violations of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231, the resolution that affirmed the deal, because of language in the resolution calling upon Iran not to develop ballistic missiles though year 8 of the deal. But the Iranians said the opposite: Iranian President Rouhani ordered Iran’s military to expand its ballistic missile program and the Iranians resumed launching ballistic missiles, including missiles shown with “Israel must be wiped out” written on the side. The Obama administration then began refusing to declare the launches were violations. After Flynn’s statement today, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer described the launches as a violation.
You may have heard that there is a new sheriff in town. He means not to accommodate the status quo with Iran in a direction that is more conducive to the national interest of the United States. I take it that you have to start somewhere and Flynn’s blunt statement today is where we’re starting.