Legacy or bust - Charles Krauthammer, MD
Our response? After Iran's first illegal launch in October, the administration did nothing. A few words at the United Nations. Weren't we repeatedly assured that any Iranian violation would be met with vigorous action? No worry, again. As U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power told a congressional hearing last week, "discussions are a form of U.N. action."
The heart sinks.
It was obvious from the very beginning that the whole administration promise of "snapback" sanctions was a farce. The Iranians knew it. Hence their contempt for even the prospect of American pushback: two illegal missile launches conducted ostentatiously even before sanctions are lifted and before they receive their $150 billion in unfrozen assets early next year.
They know Obama will ignore, downplay and explain away any violation, lest it jeopardize his transformative foreign policy legacy. It's a legacy of fictional agreements. The proliferators are not bound. By our own volition, we are.
[Washington Post via JWR]
Iran Provokes the World - Editorial
[A] UN panel has determined that Iran test-fired a nuclear-capable missile on Oct. 10, in violation of a UN resolution that prohibits such launches. Moreover, it appears likely that a second missile launch occurred on Nov. 21, also in violation of Security Council Resolution 1929.
U.S. officials argue that Iran's nonnuclear violations make it all the more important that the nuclear deal be implemented. But that ignores the clear connections between the missile launches and Tehran's ambitions to become a nuclear power. The only practical military purpose of the missiles the regime is testing is to carry atomic warheads.
Iran is clearly testing the will of the U.S. to enforce the overall regime limiting its nuclear ambitions. If there is no serious response, it will press the boundaries in other areas - such as the inspection regime. The administration would be wise to take firm action now in response to the missile tests rather than trying to sweep them under the carpet.
The Risks of Inaction - Michael Singh
The Obama administration has emphasized that the nuclear deal with Iran was not intended to address concerns such as Iran's support for terrorism or its regional activities. Since the agreement was signed in July, Iran has sentenced Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and imprisoned another Iranian-American. It has defied UN sanctions by exporting arms to Yemen and Syria, and by conducting two ballistic missile launches. In addition, Iranian hackers have reportedly engaged in cyber attacks on the State Department.
In defending the nuclear deal, administration officials were at pains to note the multiple multilateral and unilateral options remaining to them to respond to just these sorts of situations. But the administration has not acted. Inaction in the face of Iranian misbehavior implies that Tehran stands to receive broader-than-intended relief.
Maintaining deterrence as well as the integrity of UN sanctions will require meaningful responses to Iranian provocations with the full range of tools at Washington's disposal. It means wielding carrots and sticks together, and not neglecting U.S. commitments.
If Iran's disregard for international injunctions is ignored, it cannot be long before Tehran treats the nuclear deal the same way.
The writer, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, worked on Middle East issues at the National Security Council from 2005 to 2008.
(Wall Street Journal)