Iran Test Fires Missile, Trump Aide Says Iran Officially Put 'On Notice'

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National Security Adviser Michael Flynn stands by the elevators at Trump Tower. 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.

It was the Trump's sharpest threat against a U.S adversary since taking office on Jan. 20, a warning that could foreshadow more aggressive economic and diplomatic measures against Iran.

White House national security adviser Michael Flynn condemned the test and said it was in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

While signaling a more muscular U.S. foreign policy that Trump has said he would pursue, the meaning of Flynn's comment, that "we are officially putting Iran on notice," was unclear.

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.

Crude oil futures rallied on Wednesday, jumping more than $1 a barrel on geopolitical concerns after Iran confirmed the missile test and bulls found support in reports on production cuts.

Flynn said the missile launch was in defiance 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."

Richard Nephew, a former Obama administration official who was a U.S. negotiator with Iran on the deal, said Flynn's comment could backfire.

"I think this will create an impetus for the Iranians to 'resist' and 'defy' more and that could well create an escalatory cycle with Iran. Being tough with Iran is one thing, but you have to back it up and bring partners with you. Is Flynn prepared to deal with what comes from that?” he said.

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.

Trump is due to hold to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strident critic of the Iran nuclear deal, at the White House on Feb. 15. The two leaders are expected to try to coordinate strategy on Iran, Israel’s regional arch-foe.