According to Power, the U.S. government has determined the medium-range missile tested by Iran was “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.” As the Associated Press reports, such a weapon system violates a 2010 U.N. Security Council resolution, which banned Iran from “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”
“The Security Council prohibition on Iran’s ballistic missile activities, as well as the arms embargo, remain in place and we will continue to press the Security Council for an appropriate response to Iran’s disregard for its international obligations,” Power said in a statement to the AP.
She said the U.S. would forward its conclusions to the relevant Security Council committee, but “did not specify what action the U.S. would seek.”
Understandably, but absurdly, the White House insists this missile launch was in no way linked to the nuclear deal with Iran, which was approved by its Parliament only this Tuesday, and continues to describe Iran as abiding by its commitments.
In reality, it is unlikely anyone outside of President Obama’s direct employ sees the missile test as anything but a startling gesture of Iranian defiance and contempt. The missile, which has a range of just over a thousand miles, and is described by the BBC as “more reliable than earlier versions,” is not just inherently capable of carrying a nuclear warhead; it has few other possible uses.
“Unfortunately, what Iran is seeing is that not only is the US not challenging Iran on its interpretations, but the Obama administration is actually bending over backwards in order to provide explanations that justify these interpretations,” said senior Israeli arms control expert Dr. Emily Landau, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “We are thus already learning a lot about the degree of political will that we can expect from the P5+1 as far as ensuring that Iran meets its commitments according to the JCPOA. What we see is anything but encouraging.”
The JCPOA is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, i.e. the Iran nuclear deal. Dr. Landau warned that Iran is “testing the waters in order to establish and ensure rules of the game for its future activities – like inspections at its military facilities, and its presence in Syria.” More such tests will surely be forthcoming.
Reuters reports that Security Council diplomats said “it was possible to sanction additional Iranian individuals or entities by adding them to an existing U.N. blacklist,” but they suspected Russia and China would block any such sanctions.
President Obama admitted his deal does not cover every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program and missile development – an admission that will come as something of a surprise to anyone who took his sales pitch for the deal seriously – and said “we are going to have to continue to put pressure on them through the international community.”
“Once the deal takes effect, Iran will still be ‘called upon’ to refrain from undertaking any work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for a period of up to eight years, according to a Security Council resolution adopted in July,” Reuters adds.
What that means, with Iran’s true partners in Russia standing by to checkmate any significant consequences for their actions, is anyone’s guess.