The Trump administration is "officially putting Iran on notice," National Security Adviser Mike Flynn announced on Wednesday during the daily press briefing at the White House. Flynn took the podium mid-way through Press Secretary Sean Spicer's daily appearance before the media, and spoke for two minutes exclusively about Iran.
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On Thursday, Iran reacted strongly against Flynn's remarks, calling them "useless" threats and a provocation.
Flynn said that Iran's launch of a ballistic missile as part of a test earlier this week, was "in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231" and that the event was part of "Iran's destabilizing behavior all across the Middle East." Flynn added that this "underscores what should have been clear to the international community" even before the latest missile test.
"Iran continues to threaten U.S. friends and allies in the region," Flynn declared. He said that Houthi forces in Yemen, supported by Iran, have been acting against Saudi and U.A.E forces for months now, as part of a series of incidents. "The Obama administration failed to response adequately to Iran's malign actions," Flynn said. "The Trump administration strongly condemns such actions, which place American lives at risk."
In his first public media appearance since taking office, Flynn - a former two-star General - said that "Iran is feeling emboldened" as a result of the nuclear deal it signed with world powers in 2015. He ended his rare appearance by stating that "we are officially putting Iran on notice." When Spicer was asked later what exactly that meant, he said he did not want to go into further details, but that the White House wanted to "Send them a message that we weren't going to sit by."
Flynn was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's policy toward Iran before he was chosen by Trump to serve as his national security adviser. It should be noted that in a different part of the press briefing today, Spicer quoted the foreign minister of the U.A.E, one of Iran's rivals in the Middle East, to defend Trump's executive action banning the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan said it was a "sovereign decision" by the U.S., and that the move was not aimed at Muslims.
Trump spoke on the phone last week with the King of Saudi Arabia, and according to a White House transcript, discussed with him "Iran's destabilizing activities in the Middle East" and ways to monitor the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
A top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday they will not yield to "useless" U.S. threats from "an inexperienced person" over its ballistic missile program.
"This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran ... the American government will understand that threatening Iran is useless," Ali Akbar Velayati said, without identifying any U.S. official specifically in his comments.
"Iran does not need permission from any country to defend itself," he was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency. Khamenei is the country's most powerful figure.
Later, the Iranian Foreign Ministry termed Flynn's remarks as repetitive, baseless and provocative, state media reported.
Reuters contributed to this report