First-on-camera appearance Wednesday, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn made a surprise using the authority of the White House briefing room to send a strong message to the leaders of the Islamic Republic and the wider Middle East.
The Trump administration is getting tough with Iran — but can’t yet say how it will back up its rhetoric.
Flynn said, in a statement condemning a recent Iranian ballistic missile launch and attacks on Saudi and Emirati vessels by Yemeni-based Houthi rebels, which are backed by Iran, that as of today they official putting Iran on notice.
The new management in the White House would not tolerate what it sees as Iran’s destabilizing activity throughout the wider Middle East. This followed Republican claims that the last White House did just that to shield its legacy-enhancing nuclear deal, reports BBC.
Flynn said that the Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malignant actions, including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms.
He added that 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.
The former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, Tony Blinken, said that Iranian missile tests were a serious issue and that a mechanism existed at the UN to address any infringements.
Flynn claimed that the test-firing of the missile on Sunday was a break of a UN Security Council resolution. Iran disagreed that the launch trespassed the resolution, which bars the testing of nuclear-capable missiles.
The new, rugged US approach to Iran stood apart from the international deal to put a lid on the Iran’s nuclear program.
The statement was a strong sign that the new White House aims to make a sharp change of course from the Obama years and is willing to be more pre-emptive in confronting Iran’s projection of power that it believes threatens its Middle East allies.
Three administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss White House policy, several hours after Flynn spoke, conducted a briefing for reporters but offered little to illuminate Flynn’s warning.
One of the senior officials said that there are a large number of options available to the administration, we are going to take appropriate action. And I will not provide any further information today relative to the question.
The official declined to elaborate in spite of being pressed by reporters on whether he envisaged military, economic or other action.
In addition to what was said by the official, they are considering a whole range of options as they are in a deliberative process. The important thing here is they are communicating that Iranian behavior needs to be rethought by Tehran, that they consider these actions to be inherently destabilizing and a treat to friends and allies. He hoped that Iran will heed the notice and change their behavior.
For now, the White House seems to be hoping that words will be enough.