By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) – A top adviser to President Donald Trump delivered a tough warning to Iran on Wednesday for test-firing a ballistic missile and declared “we are officially putting Iran on notice” for what he called a provocation.
A statement from White House national security adviser Michael Flynn condemning the test was an example of a more muscular U.S. foreign policy that Trump has said he would pursue.
Iran confirmed on Wednesday it had tested a new missile but said it did not breach a nuclear accord reached with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the pact.
Flynn said the missile launch violated the 2015 security council resolution.
The Islamic Republic has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first since Trump took office last month.
Flynn, in his first appearance in the White House press briefing room, said the missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel by Iran-allied Houthi militants off the coast of Yemen underscored “Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”
Trump has frequently criticized the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the administration of his predecessor, President Barack Obama. The new president has called the deal weak and ineffective.
While campaigning in September, then-candidate Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the U.S. Navy would be “shot out of the water” if he is elected.
A section of U.N. resolution 2231 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Flynn said: “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.”
Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke by phone on Sunday and were described by the White House as agreeing on the importance of enforcing the deal and “addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”
Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based policy group that advised Trump during the campaign and has continued to consult with the new administration on Iran, said the missile test was the 12th since the 2015 Iran deal.
“It’s going to provide further justification for what we expect over the coming months, which is new congressional sanctions, new administration sanctions and a message … that Iranian aggression needs to be punished and deterred,” Dubowitz told Reuters on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Jeffrey Benkoe)