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White House puts Iran 'on notice' for testing ballistic missile in defiance of ban on nuclear-capable weapons - and refuses to rule out sanctions or military action

2017-02-02 07:10:36

 Gen. Michael Flynn issued a stern warning to Iran on Wednesday after the Islamic republic tested a ballistic missile.

President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor told reporters during a White House press briefing that the administration 'condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East that puts American lives at risk.'

'As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,' he said.

It wasn't clear what that notice means, or what consequences Iran can expect if it continues to test missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. 

Senior administration officials wouldn't rule out military action or sanctions during a separate briefing with reporters that came later. 

Officials said 'a large number of options' are being considered and would not reveal what those are other than to say that they include financial and economic actions.

'We are considering a whole range of options. We are in a deliberative process,' one said.

Flynn said that 'Iran is now feeling emboldened,' and criticized the Obama administration for failing 'to respond adequately to Tehran's malign actions, including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms.'  

Administration officials, speaking on background to reporters, said Wednesday afternoon that the Republican president was taking a 'different perspective' than his predecessor.

'Iranian behavior needs to be rethought by Tehran,' one said. 

An official said, 'There should be no doubt that the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for adhering to missile restrictions and accountable for behavior in the region that we consider to be destabilizing.'

Iran, Republicans say, has built up its nuclear capabilities despite signing on to a multilateral deal designed to produce the opposite outcome. 

A defense official said this week that the Iranian missile test ended with a 'failed' re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. 

The suggestion that the missile was designed to return to earth supports the contention that it was a test of an attack vehicle, not a rocket meant to launch satellites into space. 

The official had no other details, including the type of missile, but spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Flynn said pointedly that Iran's action is 'in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.'

The White House said Monday that it was studying information about the ballistic missile test.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he did not know the 'exact nature' of the test and expected to have more information later.

The White House sent several officials to brief reporters a hours later. 

'We can confirm that Iran conducted a launch of a medium-range missile, the Shahab, and that launch was on 29 January. The launch we view as being highly provocative,' an official said. 'This affects us all and is a destabilizing factor in the region.'

Iran is the subject of a United Nations Security Council resolution prohibiting tests of ballistic missiles designed to deliver a nuclear warhead. 

As part of the 2015 nuclear deal, the U.N. ban was prolonged by eight years, although Iran has flaunted the restriction.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. was looking into whether the ballistic missile test violates the U.S. Security Council resolution.

'When actions are taken that violate or are inconsistent with the resolution, we will act to hold Iran accountable and urge other countries to do so as well,' Toner said.

Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned Iran for the missile test.

'No longer will Iran be given a pass for its repeated ballistic missile violations, continued support of terrorism, human rights abuses and other hostile activities that threaten international peace and security,' Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, said in a written statement.

Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, meanwhile, claimed a successful missile strike against a warship in the Red Sea belonging to the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting alongside Yemen's internationally recognized government. 

Video footage shown on the rebels' al-Masirah television on Monday shows a warship being hit and a fire on board starting as a man not shown in the video shouts the rebels' trademark chant of 'Allahu akbar (God is greatest), death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory for Islam.'

The media arm of the Shiite rebels, also known as the Houthis, said the vessel was believed to belong to the Saudi Arabian navy.

Source : Mail Online News