Iran Test-Fires Another Ballistic Missile
How will the new administration respond to the Islamic Republic’s latest transgression?
By Ari Lieberman
When Benjamin Netanyahu was first elected prime minister of Israel in 1996, he inherited the now infamous Oslo Accords orchestrated by his naïve Labor predecessors. The accords tied Netanyahu’s hands and severely curtailed Israel’s ability to conduct effective counter-terror operations due to limitations placed on the Israeli army’s freedom of action. Worse yet, Netanyahu’s predecessors deliberately overlooked blatant Palestinian transgressions, including mass weapons smuggling and proliferation, for fear of rocking the boat and upsetting the Palestinian Authority. Ultimately, these transgressions and the leftist tendency to ignore them led to an explosion of Palestinian violence that led to the unraveling of the Oslo Accords.
Israel is now at peace but it took the lives of 1,000 Israelis and many more injured to finally act resolutely and forcefully to quash Palestinian violence. Had Israel moved earlier to rigorously enforce signed agreements, it is likely that many lives would have been saved and much bloodshed spared.
In many ways, President Donald Trump faces the same problems Netanyahu faced when assuming office in 1996. Trump has inherited Barack Obama’s foreign policy mafia debts, namely, the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action, also known as the Iran Deal. The deal, which Charles Krauthammer called “the worst deal in U.S. diplomatic history,” provides the Islamic Republic with a legal pathway toward acquiring nuclear weapons while also providing the Iranians sanctions relief.
Flush with cash facilitated by Obama’s JCPOA, the Iranians have wasted no time in rebuilding their crumbling military, purchasing sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles and combat jets from China and Russia, providing funds to their overseas mercenary armies and perhaps most ominously, expanding their ballistic missile program.
Underscoring this point, on Sunday, Iran test-fired another ballistic missile from its test site outside Semnan, which is located approximately 140 miles east of Tehran. The launch registered as a failure as the missile flew about 600 miles before exploding. Nonetheless, the test-firing constituted a blatant violation of UN Security Council resolution 2231 which prohibits Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests for eight years. Resolution 2231 was passed by the Security Council in July 2015.
Since its passage, Iran has conducted multiple ballistic missile launches in defiance of the resolution but this is the first confirmed missile launch since Trump assumed office. Previous missile launches conducted by the Islamic Republic during Obama’s tenure evoked meek and tepid responses from the administration. In fact, in May 2016, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander revealed that the Obama administration had asked the Iranians not to publicize their launches, a claim that was not denied by the Obama State Department.
That pusillanimous policy characterized the Obama doctrine. Iranian violations of the JCPOA and actions in defiance of resolution 2231 were ignored and swept under the rug for fear of angering the unpredictable mullahs and shattering what was left of Obama’s legacy. This deleterious policy in-turn emboldened the mullahs, who not unlike the Palestinians, took more aggressive action and pushed the envelope even further.
Sunday’s launch represents the first major foreign policy challenge for Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for the JCPOA. Iran’s ballistic missile program, though covered under a separate agreement, is integral to its nuclear bomb project. The missile program has but one aim, to acquire the ability to miniaturize a weapon of mass destruction and deliver the WMD-equipped warhead over long distances.
The Iranians have made no effort to hide their pernicious intentions and genocidal aims. In March 2016 they test-fired a ballistic missile emblazoned with the caption, “Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth.” America’s NATO allies as well as its allies in the Gulf are also vulnerable to Iranian aggression.
Experts have also noted that the continental U.S. is not immune to Iranian attack. As far back as 2008, U.S. intelligence officials expressed concern that the Iranians were making efforts to outfit a cargo vessel with the ability to launch a nuclear-armed missile. Such a missile, if detonated at a certain altitude could wreak havoc and generate an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) that could cripple susceptible infrastructure, like the energy and communication sectors.
Another frightening scenario involves the Iranians partnering with their Hezbollah agents and narco-terrorists to smuggle a so-called dirty bomb across the porous U.S.-Mexico border, a border long neglected by the Obama administration. The Iranians and Hezbollah are well entrenched in Central and South America and are primed for covert action in that theater.
Clearly, the Iranians are testing the new administration with their most recent missile launch. The Trump administration must act resolutely to deal with this clear and present danger. If it does not act forcefully to the instant Iranian transgression, it will be perceived by the mullahs as weakness and will only serve to embolden them further. Ultimately, the U.S. will have to challenge the Islamic Republic. The salient question is; does the U.S. address the problem now, when Iran does not have nuclear capability, or later when it does?