Senior officials cite Iran’s ‘highly provocative’ behavior.
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is “officially putting Iran on notice,” and senior administration officials later refused to rule out military action against the Islamic Republic.
Senior administration officials Wednesday afternoon said Iran’s “highly provocative” behavior, including a recent missile test, “is a destabilizing factor in the region” and promised a response.
The administration is considering “a large number of options” to address Iran, but refused to say whether military action is among them.
“We’re going to take appropriate action,” an administration official said. “We are considering a whole range of options. We are in a deliberative process.”
The statements came after the Iranian government conducted a missile test on Monday and Houthi rebels, an Iran-backed group in Yemen, attacked a Saudi naval vessel earlier this week.
Flynn addressed reporters at the top of the daily White House press briefing earlier in the day.
“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,” Flynn said. “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.”
Later Wednesday, Trump echoed Flynn’s more aggressive stance toward Iran in a tweet.
“Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!” he said on Twitter.
The National Iranian American Council slammed the threatening attitude.
“National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s statement on Iran today was reckless,” said Trita Parsi of the NIAC in a statement. “While Flynn’s remarks could be construed as simply bluster, they will beget an Iranian response which in turn will beget further threats by the U.S. At some point, this escalatory cycle that started with bluster may end in war.”
Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with Flynn to discuss Iran and said he was impressed with the new administration’s approach.
“I am very encouraged by the seriousness with which President Trump is approaching the full range of threats Iran poses to American interests. It is clear that Iran will no longer be given a pass and will be held accountable for its illicit behavior,” Corker said in a statement after the meeting.
Senior administration officials, speaking on background, later underscored Flynn’s message.
“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,” a senior administration official said.
“Iranian behavior needs to be rethought by Tehran,” an official said.
The officials framed the new attitude as a “different approach” from the last administration’s.