This U.S. administration’s desperation to conclude the Iran Nuclear Deal – whatever its actual terms or deterrence power – led to the likelihood that Iran’s latest militaristic provocations are immune from censure. That is so, despite America’s stated horror at Iran’s actions and even despite the Obama administration’s claim that Iran’s actions are a breach of its international law duties.
On March 8 and 9, Iran conducted missile tests from several different locations within its borders. The missiles were launched by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps with the express intent “to demonstrate Iran’s deterrent power and the Islamic Republic’s ability to confront any threat” against it, according to an official statement.
A Revolutionary Guard commander was quoted as saying that the missiles were designed to hit Israel, “our enemy the Zionist regime,” from a safe distance. The missiles were reportedly stamped with the words, in Hebrew: “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.”
Obviously what Iran did was belligerent, but did it violate any agreements to which it should believe itself to be bound, and which would provide for international censure?
The answer seems to be that while Iran’s firing those missiles would have been prohibited before the U.S. and its international partners entered into the Iran Nuclear Deal, as the result of concessions made in order to induce Iran to sign the deal, we no longer have a supportable basis for complaint. Before the deal, yes, after the deal – which was touted by its proponents as making us all safer, no.
Nicely done you guys.
In fact, the Iran Nuclear Deal did not, until the very late stages, address ballistic missiles at all. At least one good reason why it did not is that there already was a United Nations Security Council Resolution in place that explicitly dealt with this problem.
UNSCR 1929, passed in 2010, prohibited Iran from engaging in any activity relating to ballistic missiles: “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles.” The “shall not” language is crystal clear, and allows no wiggle room, ballistic missile activity by Iran is verboten.
But late in the game during the recent negotiations, when the U.S. became desperate to close the deal, Iran not only held firm on its initial conditions, but began making new demands. That was when the issue of ballistic missiles came into play.
And the U.S., so desperate for a deal, gave Iran two enormous missile-sized gifts.
First, it crossed its own red line of not including anything in the Nuclear Iran Deal that was not about Iran’s nuclear program. It did this by inserting into the deal a provision which put an end date on Iran’s ballistic missiles ban. Eight years after the signing of the Nuclear Iran Deal, Iran, with the official blessing of the international community, will no longer be subject to a ballistic missiles embargo.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry considered that a win. Why? Because Iran wanted it lifted immediately.
This missile gift was recognized and heavily criticized by the few critics of the Nuclear Iran Deal, most of whom were ignored.
The second Iran Missile Gift was far more serious, and, incredibly, received far less attention.
This gift applied to Iranian ballistic missile activity during the eight years until the ban was lifted. And it removed every last tooth in that provision, at least domestic ballistic missile testing, production and launches.
Recall the language quoted from UNSCR 1929? It was a blanket prohibition: “Iran shall not” engage in any ballistic missile activity.
During the final drunken haze of granting concessions to achieve a “deal,” the U.S. changed the impregnable “Iran shall not,” by endorsing the full Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and incorporating various implementation schemes, to instead read “Iran is called upon not to” develop ballistic missiles. That’s in Annex B, Para. 3, of UNSCR 2231, which was adopted by the full Security Council on July 20.