In an aggressive move that could raise tensions with Iran, President Donald Trump on Thursday put Tehran “on notice” over a ballistic missile test and said it was “on its last legs and ready to collapse” until the US came along and gave it a life-line in the form of a terrible deal.
“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. (It) Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the US made with them!,” he tweeted, signalling a more hardline stance against Tehran that could set the stage for renewed confrontation between the two nations.
Trump said that Iran was “on its last legs and ready to collapse until the US came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: USD 150 billion.”
The pronouncement marked a pivot away from the previous Obama administration’s policy of diplomatic engagement with Iran which led to a 2015 multinational nuclear deal.
Iran said on Thursday the U.S. National Security Advisor’s (NSA) comments on the recent ballistic missile test were “repetitive, baseless and provocative”, state TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi 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,” Ghasemi said.
In the past Trump had severely criticised various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama administration as well as the UN, terming them “weak and ineffective”.
Earlier, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said that the Trump administration “condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East that puts American lives at risk”.
“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said, adding that recent Iranian actions, including the “provocative” ballistic missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel by Iran-supported Houthis, “underscore what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran’s destabilising behaviour” across the region.
The adviser said that the ballistic missile launch, the first by Iran since Trump become president, is in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
The resolution calls upon 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.
“In these and other similar activities, Iran continues to threaten US friends and allies in the region,” Flynn said.
“The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions -- including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” he said. “Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened.”
Senior officials said the US administration has all its options open. Describing the Iranian actions as destabilising, they said the US will respond to it appropriately.
“There should be no doubt that the US is committed to holding Iran accountable for adhering to missile restrictions and accountable for behaviour in the region that we consider to be destabilising,” a senior administration official told reporters on Thursday.
The United States is reviewing what information we may be able to share with the Security Council regarding Iran’s ballistic missile activity, the official said.
“We will also continue to insist on full implementation of the binding measures in the UN Resolution 2231 that prohibit all outside support to Iran’s ballistic missile programme,” he said.