Iran defied JCPOA sanctions this week with multiple missile tests that officials are calling an exhibition of “deterrent power.” As lawmakers in both parties pressure President Obama to respond, Iran threatens to back out of the nuclear deal if the West imposes additional sanctions.
Tuesday’s ballistic missile tests do not directly violate the JCPOA, but they do make a mockery of President Obama and his reasons for negotiating with Tehran. “While international sanctions against Iran are being lifted, Iran fired ballistic missiles in violation of international resolutions yet again,” argues House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Time and again, Iran has violated international agreements only to have the Obama administration bat its eyes and look the other way.”
State media sources confirmed that several precision guided missiles, some long-range, were fired from multiple sites to display Iran’s “all-out readiness to confront threats.” According to reports, at least one of these warheads had a range of 1,200 miles.
Meanwhile, Iranian leaders continue to insist they will back out of the nuclear pact if any of the signee countries impede the “national interests” of the Islamic Republic. Brigadier Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard argues that ballistic missiles are a cornerstone of Iranian defense. “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,” he says.
Iran was hit with new sanctions less than two months ago as punishment for another series of missile tests. The sanctions came just 24 hours after other sanctions had been lifted according to the landmark nuclear deal between the United States, Iran, and other world powers.
The White House is “still reviewing the launch…to determine what the appropriate response is,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. The test “is not a violation of the nuclear agreement,” but it may have violated a separate UN resolution.
The White House’s nuclear agreement with Tehran “is enabling Iran’s aggression and terrorist activities,” says McCarthy. The California Republican added that Iran is acting with impunity “because they know President Obama will not hold them accountable and risk the public destruction of his nuclear deal, the cornerstone of the president’s foreign policy legacy.”
As McCarthy and others push Obama to hold Iran accountable, I can’t help but remember the White House’s admission last fall that the JCPOA is not legally binding. Did anyone really expect Iran to follow the rules? And let’s not forget the JCPOA was agreed to only after the Iranian proxy army threatened to launch rockets at Tel Aviv.