Trump administration puts Iran 'on notice'
In his first public remarks since Trump took office, White House national security adviser Michael Flynn (pictured) told reporters Wednesday that the weekend missile test and an attack on a Saudi naval vessel by Iran-linked rebels off the coast of Yemen were signs of Iran's "destabilizing behavior" across the Middle East.
"As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice," Flynn said, without explaining exactly what that meant.
Iran agreed to a nuclear accord with six world powers in 2015, in which it agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief. Economic sanctions had been imposed due to concern Iran was developing its own atomic bombs, something Iran had denied.
Since then the country has test-fired several ballistic missiles, but the latest was the first since Trump entered the White House. During his election campaign he spoke critically of the Iran accord and said he would stop the missile program.
Trump signed an executive order last week to temporarily suspend immigration from Iran as well as six other countries with Muslim majorities.
Iran denies wrongdoing
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Denghan on Wednesday confirmed that the latest test had taken place. However, he said it was not in violation of the 2015 nuclear accord or UN Security Council resolution that endorsed that pact.
"The recent test was in line with our plans and we will not allow foreigners to interfere in our defense affairs," Dehghan was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
Flynn said the missile launch did violate the UN resolution. That resolution calls on Iran not to undertake activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran said its missiles do not breach those resolutions because they are for defense purposes only and were not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
On Tuesday the UN Security Council referred the missile testing to a committee for investigation.
A statement from about 220 Iranian lawmakers carried Wednesday on state media reaffirmed support for the missile program and called international condemnation of the tests "illogical."
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is against weapons of mass destruction, so its missile capability is the only available deterrence against enemy hostility," they said.
Some of the missiles in Iran's arsenal have a large enough range to strike many parts of the Middle East, including US bases and its regional enemy Israel. Iran says its missiles are key to deterring a US or Israeli attack.
se/jm (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)