Iran launched several ballistic missiles across the country today in violation of United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2231, and despite what the administration says, it’s a violation of the P5+1 nuclear deal. They showed the launch on state television and bragged that efforts by their “main enemies” could not halt the program:
Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s [Revolutionary Guard] aerospace arm, said sanctions would not stop Iran developing its ballistic missiles, which it regards as a cornerstone of its conventional deterrent. “Our main enemies are imposing new sanctions on Iran to weaken our missile capabilities… But they should know that the children of the Iranian nation in the Revolutionary Guards and other armed forces refuse to bow to their excessive demands,” the IRGC’s website quoted Hajizadeh as saying. A state television report showed a missile being fired from a fortified underground silo at night time. The presenter said it was a medium-range Qiam-1 missile, and the test took place in the early hours of Tuesday.
When nuclear negotiations began the Obama administration dispatched officials to the Hill to ask Congress to back off plans to pressure the Iranians, and in exchange promised that any final deal would include a rollback of Iran’s ballistic missile program. The Iranians not only refused to discuss making ballistic missile concessions – at one point Zarif literally laughed in the face of American negotiators who tried to bring it up – and instead began quietly moving to get relief from ballistic missile sanctions.
Days before the final round of Vienna talks the U.S. military community expressed alarm at rumors that U.S. negotiators would make concessions on ballistic missiles. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told lawmakers “we should under no circumstances relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking” and Defense Secretary Ash Carter echoed that the U.S. “want[s] them to continue to be isolated as a military and limited in terms of the kinds of equipment and material they are able to procure.”
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At Vienna U.S. diplomats nonetheless ceded to a particular Iranian interpretation of UNSCR 1929 under which Iran was entitled to relief from ballistic missile sanctions, and agreed to lift the U.N.-imposed embargo on ballistic missiles in 8 years’ time. The concession was a diplomatic choice not justified by the text of the UNSCR, and American diplomats were subsequently criticized for not holding their position. Iranian FM Zarif bragged after Vienna that the international ban on Iranian missile R&D had been transformed into a “non-binding restriction” and Iranian Deputy FM Abbas Araghchi vowed to buy weapons from wherever possible… [and] to provide weapons to whomever and whenever it considers appropriate.”
After Vienna the administration fell back on promising that it would aggressively push back against Iranian missile development while the eight year ban was still in effect. President Obama declared in his post-Vienna speech that “restrictions on ballistic missile technology will remain for eight years… we are not taking the pressure off Iran with respect to arms and with respect to ballistic missiles” . Secretary Kerry was asked on Face the Nation why the U.S. was lifting ballistic missile restrictions and snapped back “actually, we’re not… [w]e have to have those. And they add on to additional mechanisms that we have to hold them accountable on arms and missiles.”
Since then the Iranians have launched ballistic missiles every few weeks. The State Department has assured reporters they will aggressively respond to this latest Iranian ballistic missile test.
There is only one reason for Iran to develop these missiles-to deliver warheads to far away locations, which is why the UN banned the rogue regime from developing them. This is not the first time Iran has fired ballistic missiles.
The Obama administration claims the firing of missiles did not violate the p5+1 nuke deal. But they admit that if true the missile firings violates UNSCR 2231, the resolution which among other things approved the P5+1 deal. Paragraph 3 of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) 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. So since the two are part of the same UN resolution one can argue that violating one part is violating the whole thing. Or to put on another way saying that it doesn’t violate the P5+1 deal is a trick of semantics.
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that both the United States and the United Nations must show that the reported tests will have “swift and immediate consequences.”
“The administration’s hesitancy and the council’s refusal to act after multiple violations last fall must not be repeated now that Iran appears ready to test the will of the international community with the nuclear agreement in place,” he added.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) suggested that Obama was to blame for Iran’s behavior, saying that “it’s clear our enemies no longer fear the United States” and Iran is “throwing dirt in the face of the entire free world.”
But with is number one goal being the protection of his foreign policy legacy, so far President Obama has refused to punish Iran for their illegal acts.
The State Department is still giving reporters conflicting background on yesterday’s out-of-nowhere declaration from the IAEA that the nuclear deal places new limits on what the Agency is allowed to report about Iran’s nuclear program, which would be the exact opposite of the administration’s promise of unprecedented transparency. There’s an AP report out of Vienna that suggests the Russians are coordinating with the Iranians on the issue.