The Iran Deal Violations Begin
Throughout the debate over the Iran nuclear deal, critics of the agreement did more than point out its weaknesses. They also argued that given Iran’s long record of violating existing agreements, it was almost certain that Tehran would ignore many, if not most of its restrictions at the first opportunity. This claim was pooh-poohed by President Obama and his supporters who asserted that the safeguards in the pact would prevent cheating. More importantly, the mindset behind the decision to essentially grant international approval to Iran’s nuclear program was based on the notion that the Islamist regime could be trusted and would, given enough encouragement, ultimately change to become a partner for the West. The jaw-dropping naïveté that was the foundation of administration policy is part of what led to what polls showed to be most of the American people and large majorities in both the House and the Senate to oppose the deal (though not enough, thanks to partisan Democrats, to stop it). But critics didn’t have to wait long for their predictions to start coming true. As the New York Times reported today, Iran announced a long-range missile test in violation of the restrictions on their missile program that was promised by the administration.
One of the many shortcomings of the nuclear deal was its failure to address Iran’s building of intercontinental ballistic missiles, a weapons system that illustrated that their nuclear program was a threat to the United States as much as it was to Israel. But the deal did leave in place the restrictions on missile testing. Indeed,the United Nations Security Council resolution that lifted most of the sanctions on Iran (prior to Obama sneaking the deal through Congress) left in place previous the measures previously passed that made missile tests illegal. Thus, the announcement by Iran’s state news agency that the test of their Emad guided missile is an obvious violation of the deal.
Yet what is most significant about this event is that it allows us to see exactly how the nuclear deal will function in the future.
Given the ferocity of administration promises about safeguards and holding Iran accountability that we heard during the debate on the deal, we might expect serious consequences to result from the missile launch. But anyone who really thinks that will happen hasn’t been paying attention.
The administration will express concern but also attempt to muddy the waters about the agreement saying, as the Times article implied that there was some doubt about whether the restrictions still apply. The missile test will be widely interpreted as being merely a function of internal Iranian political arguments between hardliners opposed to the deal and “moderates” in favor of it. The test will be dismissed as meaningless, and any attempt to hold Iran accountable for its misbehavior will be branded as a Western provocation that would destroy trust inside Iran and hurt the “moderates.” In other words, we will be told to move along, and that there is nothing to see here.
But there is something very important going on.
The Emad is a clear technological step up from Iran’s existing Shahab-3 missile and is a direct threat to Israel. While Iran speaks of its armaments as defensive in nature and a deterrent against the Jewish state, we should remember one thing. Israel has no policy aimed at destroying Iran. It is Iran’s leaders who repeatedly threaten Israel with extinction.
The process, by which Iran will move, either slowly or quickly to a nuclear weapon with a weapons system that can deliver such a bomb, begins with establishing its ability to violate the nuclear deal with
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