Top general: No change in Iran's behavior since Trump put country 'on notice'

Top general: No change in Iran's behavior since Trump put country 'on notice'
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The top U.S. general said Thursday that he hasn’t seen a change in Iranian behavior since President Trump put the country “on notice” earlier this month.

“No, I haven’t detected a change in Iranian behavior,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told a crowd at the Brookings Institution.

“From my perspective, the major export of Iran is actually malign influence across the region,” Dunford said, a phrasing he’s used in the past. “You’ve got a very aggressive proxy war; we’ve seen that in Yemen. We see their influence in Syria. We see their malign influence in Lebanon, as well as in Iraq and the rest of the region. So, I haven’t seen a change, certainly in the past month.”

Trump and former national security adviser Michael Flynn said in early February that Iran was “on notice” after it conducted its first ballistic missile test since Trump took office. They also cited Iran’s support for groups such as the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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The administration followed that by slapping more sanctions on people and companies that support the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and help the Iranian government procure materials for its missile program.

The sanctions themselves weren’t much of a departure from the Obama administration, but the rhetoric of the Trump administration about Iran has been notably harsher than that of the previous White House.

At the time of the “on notice” pronouncement, some experts argued the administration could be drawing a red line it will have to act on should Iran not curtail its behavior or else look weak on foreign policy.

Asked whether the IRGC should be designated as a terrorist group as Trump is reportedly considering, Dunford said he would not weigh in what economic or political measures should be taken to address Iran’s behavior.

“I’ll leave that to others,” he said. “My domain is the military dimension, so what we have made sure is that in the United States Central Command that has the responsibility for Iran, our military posture is there to make sure we have freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz and that we deter conflict and crisis in the region and we advance our interests, to include our interests in dealing with violent extremism of all forms.”