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US puts Iran 'on official notice' after ballistic missile test

National security adviser Michael Flynn says missile test was destabilising, does not say what 'on notice' actually means
Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's national security adviser (AFP)

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said on Wednesday the United States was officially putting Iran on notice over its "destabilising activity" after it test-fired a ballistic missile over the weekend.

"As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice," Flynn told a White House briefing - but did not explain exactly what that meant.

Flynn said the missile launch on Sunday was in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution that called on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Flynn also pointed the finger at Tehran for an attack against a Saudi naval vessel by Houthi militants off the coast of Yemen.

In a tweet on Thursday afternoon, Trump himself claimed Iran had been on its "last legs" before the nuclear deal was agreed in 2015:

Iran on Thursday rejected the warning as unfounded and "provocative".

"Claims made by US President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor are baseless, repetitive and provocative," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

The National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based group that says it works to promote understanding between Americans and Iranians, also denounced Flynn's remarks as "reckless".

The council said Flynn's comments will escalate the situation and "may end in war".

NIAC also criticised Iran's missile launch but said it is not a clear-cut violation of the nuclear agreement or the UN resolution.

The group also said Iran's influence over the Houthis has been overstated.

"The United States should not go to war with Iran to defend Saudi Arabia’s reckless war in Yemen, which has undermined US interests, created a humanitarian crisis and boosted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," NIAC said in a statement.

Flynn's statement came hours after Trump's new Pentagon chief, James Mattis, said the US had agreed with Saudi Arabia to oppose Iranian "interventions" in the Middle East

Mattis and Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince, expressed "their full rejection of the suspicious activities and interventions by the Iranian regime and its agents," the Saudi Press Agency said.

The two ministers spoke on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran of causing instability in the region, while some of Trump's selections for cabinet positions have adopted anti-Iran stances.

Trump opposed the July 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran that saw the lifting of international sanctions in exchange for guarantees that it will not pursue a nuclear weapons capability.

Iran's defence minister said on Wednesday the Islamic Republic had tested a new missile, but said the test did not breach the nuclear accord or the UN resolution endorsing the pact.

Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but this is the first during Trump's administration. Trump said in his election campaign that he would stop Iran's missile programme.

"The recent test was in line with our plans and we will not allow foreigners to interfere in our defence affairs," the Tasnim news agency quoted the Iran defence minister, Hossein Dehghan, as saying.

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