Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Democratic Congressmen Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) have urged the administration to take action in response to Iran’s test of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. This was Iran’s second ballistic missile test since the nuclear deal was signed in July and a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Following Iran’s previous test in October, the US, UK, France, and Germany called on the UNSC Iran Sanctions Committee to take “appropriate action” in response, but no action has yet been taken. In a letter to President Barack Obama, Representatives Kennedy and Deutch wrote, “If the Security Council does not act to sanction such a clear-cut violation of international law, the Administration, or Congress, must act unilaterally to impose U.S. sanctions” against any entity involved in these launches. Similarly, Senator Menendez urged the administration to use its “discretionary authority to tighten the full range of sanctions” to punish Iran.
Like their Republican counterparts Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), the Democratic lawmakers expressed concern that failing to hold Iran accountable for these violations would encourage the Iranian regime to further violate its obligations, including the provisions of the nuclear deal set out in UN Security Council resolution 2231 which states that Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology” for 8 years. Deutch asserted, “Failure to hold Iran accountable for these violations sends a dangerous message to the regime that it can abandon its obligations under international law and threaten the security of the United States, Israel, and our allies without consequence.” Menendez pointed out that Iran’s violations were a “test of American commitment and resolve” and expressed outrage that “absolutely nothing” has happened as a consequence of Iran’s violations. Kennedy warned that “ignoring violations of the agreement will send a troubling signal” not only to Iran but also to our allies in the region.
Less than a week after the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran covertly operated an illicit nuclear weapons program as late as 2009, a senior Iranian official warned that reopening the investigation into the regime’s past nuclear activities would be equivalent to “welshing” on the nuclear deal, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported on Wednesday.
Ali Akbar Velayati, head of the Expediency Council’s Center for Strategic Research, declared that it would be unacceptable for the Western nations involved in the nuclear agreement to bring forth any new concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear research.
While the IAEA’s investigation is not yet closed, the United States is pushing for the agency’s Board of Governors to shut Iran’s nuclear file. However, various non-proliferation experts have stressed that the investigation should remain open due to the troubling findings detailed in the IAEA report.
Emily Landau of the Institute for National Security Studies argued in an analysis for The Tower last week that the P5+1 nations should not let Iran’s nuclear history, which includes extensive illicit activities, be “whitewashed or ignored.” She added that the international community should push back against false Iranian claims of nuclear innocence, as “Iran actually has done wrong in the nuclear realm by working on a military nuclear capability for decades.”
An analysis written by the Institute for Science and International Security pointed out that the IAEA report was unable to address the full scope of the research carried by the regime at the Parchin military complex due to Iran’s stonewalling and “extensivesanitization activities” at the site, and emphasized that there was a need for a full accounting of that work before the investigation could be closed.
Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the IAEA, wrote earlier this week that the agency’s findings on Iran’s past nuclear weapons development necessitated further investigation, as it would be impossible to verify Iran’s future compliance with the nuclear deal without establishing the extent of its covert programs. (via TheTower.org)