Iranian leaders have breached both the resolutions and the nuclear agreement for the third time since the nuclear deal went into effect in January 2016. Iran has repeatedly test-fired, long-range ballistic missiles and laser-guided surface-to-surface missiles.
In October and November, just after the nuclear deal was reached, Iran tested a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads.
In March, Iran again test-fired two ballistic missiles. More recently and for the third time, the Iranian government fired a test missile two weeks ago which was accurate to 25 feet, which is characterized as zero error, according to the Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi, the Iranian military’s deputy chief of staff, and Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.
The range of existing Iranian ballistic missiles has grown from 500 miles to over 2,000 kilometers (roughly 1,250 miles), which can easily reach Eastern Europe as well as countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Yemen.
Iranian leaders dismiss the notion that the Revolutionary Guard Corps military activities are breaching the nuclear agreement as well as several of the UN Security Council resolutions. World powers appear to acquiesce to Iran’s stance as well.
But, the United Nations Security Council resolution (Paragraph 3 of Annex B of resolution 2231, 2015) is clear. The resolution “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.”
President Obama is concerned that holding Iran accountable for these violations might force the Iranian leaders to abandon the nuclear deal, thus causing its failureDr. Majid Rafizadeh
The second UN Security Council resolution 1929 indicates “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities”.
In addition, the Joint Plan of Action Agreement (JCPOA) of the nuclear agreement between P5+1 and Iran is crystal clear in stating that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missiles activity “until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”
The five members of the UN Security Council have not reacted forcefully or taken appropriate measures to hold the Iranian government accountable for the violations. Generally speaking, China and Russia, which enjoy their strategic, geopolitical and economic alliance with Tehran and favor Iran’s counterbalance stance against the US and its allies, have used Iran’s line of argument for launching the ballistic missiles.
France, Britain and Germany, which are much to the left of the US, or sometimes follow in the footsteps of Washington’s policy towards Iran, have not taken these military maneuvers seriously.
Although according to a report obtained by AP, the launches are “destabilizing and provocative” and that the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile and Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile fired by Iran are “inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons”. The US has been trivializing the issue, failing to hold Iran accountable, and only playing with rhetoric.
For example, even though Iranian generals have admitted launching ballistic missiles, the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said this week “We’re still trying to get to the bottom of what exactly transpired.” This is an approach designed to dodge dealing with the real issue.
The US has stopped short of calling Iran’s actions as violations of UN Security Council resolutions. President Obama will continue to overlook Iran’s belligerent actions, including ballistic missile launches and the detention of US sailors by the Iranian forces, until he leaves office. He desires what he sees as his crowning foreign policy “achievement”, the nuclear agreement, to remain intact.
President Obama is concerned that holding Iran accountable for these violations might force the Iranian leaders to abandon the nuclear deal, thus causing its failure.
Furthermore, France, Britain and other European countries have less incentive to publicly hold Iran responsible, because of the increasing economic and trade ties with Tehran particularly in the energy sector (oil and gas).
For the Iranian government, advancing its ballistic missile program is a core pillar of its foreign policy after the nuclear program. Iran possesses the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the region. By launching ballistic missiles, Iran also seeks the opportunity to project its power in the region and reassert its hegemonic power.
Since Iran is certain that launching ballistic is not going to elicit robust reaction from the US and other members of the UN Security Council, the IRGC is more likely to continue its advancement and launching of ballistic missile activities more publicly.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and Harvard University scholar, is president of the International American Council. Rafizadeh serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University. He is also a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. Rafizadeh served as a senior fellow at Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington DC. He has been a recipient of several scholarships and fellowship including from Oxford University, Annenberg University, University of California Santa Barbara, and Fulbright Teaching program. He served as ambassador for the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC, conducted research at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and taught at University of California Santa Barbara through Fulbright Teaching Scholarship. He can be reached at Dr.firstname.lastname@example.org, @Dr_Rafizadeh.