Donald Trump puts Iran 'on notice' following ballistic missile test

‘This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran ... the American government will understand that threatening Iran is useless,’ says one Iranian official

Chris Stevenson
New York
,Andrew Buncombe@AndrewBuncombe
Thursday 02 February 2017 12:36
Michael Flynn: We're officially putting Iran on notice

US President Donald Trump is poised to impose new sanctions on multiple Iranian entities after a ballistic missile test that could be in contravention of a UN resolution, sources familiar with the matter have said.

Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that he had put Iran “on notice” over a ballistic missile test that could be in contravention of a UN resolution. He added that Tehran should have been “thankful” for the nuclear deal struck with the US and other world powers in 2015 as the country was on “its last legs”.

The warning appeared as an early manifestation of Mr Trump's promise of a tougher American approach to Iran, but it received an angry response in Tehran. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by state TV as saying: “Instead of thanking Iran for its continued fight against terrorism ... the American government is practically helping the terrorists by claims about Iran that are baseless, repetitive and provocative.”

The President’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, told reporters on Wednesday 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”.

“The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions – including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violation of international norms,” he said.

The US and Israel claimed that Sunday’s test launch, the first by Iran since Mr Trump become President, was in breach of UN resolution 2231. The resolution, put in place days after the Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2015, calls on the Islamic Republic not to conduct such tests.

The missile test, occurred at a well-known site outside Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran. The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, US officials said.

Just before Mr Trump’s latest tweet, Iran said it had successfully test-fired the ballistic missile that the US said had exploded early, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

“The missile test on Sunday was successful ... the test was not a violation of a nuclear deal with world powers or any UN resolution,” defence minister Hossein Dehghan told Tasnim.

A top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said Iran will not yield to US threats over a recent ballistic missile test that was aimed at limiting its defence capabilities.

“This is not the first time that an inexperienced person [US President Donald Trump] has threatened Iran ... the American government will understand that threatening Iran is useless,” Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars News Agency.

“Iran does not need permission from any country to defend itself.”

The warning from the US could foreshadow more aggressive economic and diplomatic measures against Iran.

Three senior US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters a range of options, including economic sanctions, were being considered and that a broad review was being conducted of the US posture toward Iran.

One official said the intent of Mr Flynn’s message was to make clear the administration would not be “shy or reticent” toward Tehran.

“We are in the process of evaluating the strategic options and the framework for how we want to approach these issues,” the official said. “We do not want to be premature or rash or take any action that would foreclose options or unnecessarily contribute to a negative response.

“Our sincere hope is that the Iranians will heed this notice today and will change their behaviour.”

Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first since Mr Trump became President.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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