National Security Adviser Mike Flynn said Wednesday the Trump administration is putting Iran “on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile and Tehran-backed militants attacked a Saudi naval vessel.
The implications of the warning are unclear, but Flynn pointedly criticized the Obama administration for failing “to respond adequately” to Iran’s provocative behavior.
He seemed to reference the Iran nuclear deal, saying the regime “is now feeling emboldened” instead of “being thankful” to the U.S. for “various agreements.”
“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing and also issuing a written statement.
At a press briefing later Wednesday, a senior administration official declined to elaborate on how Iran would be held accountable, saying, “there are a large range of options available to the administration, from financial and economic…to pursuing other options related to support for those that are challenging and opposing Iranian malign activity in the region.”
Asked if that would include a military option, the official replied, “we are considering a whole range of options. We’re in a deliberative process.”
Flynn also added:
“The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said. “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.”
The attack on a Saudi vessel, meanwhile, was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.
Two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded. Fox News reported earlier this week that, according to two defense officials, the attack may have been meant for an American warship.
In audio heard on a video of the attack, a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, “Allahu akbar [God is great], death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory for Islam.”
U.S. defense analysts believe those behind the attack either thought the bomber was striking an American warship or that this was a “dress rehearsal” similar to the attack on the USS Cole, according to one official.