Not long after signing the nuclear deal, the ruling clerics of the Islamist state of Iran have clearly breached the agreement and several of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. What is the Obama administration's response? He is turning a blind eye to this vital issue. The administration is ignoring these blatant violations and continuing with its efforts to lift sanctions on the Ayatollah’s regime.
The Joint Plan of Action Agreement (JCPOA), which was reached between the six world powers and Iran, clearly mentions "addressing UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions" regarding the Islamic Republic. Specifically, the JCPOA (UNSCR 2231 Annex II, paragraph three) states that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missiles activity “until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier."
Despite agreeing to the nuclear deal, Iran has repeatedly test-fired long-range ballistic missiles and laser-guided surface-to-surface missiles. In fact, last week, the Islamic Republic tested a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads. This is in direct breach of two UN Security Council resolutions and the JCPOA.
Iranian leaders make no attempt to hide this. Instead they are projecting their military power, and flaunting their breach of the agreement and the UNSC resolutions. When his country was unveiling a new missile, Fateh 313, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani previously pointed out that “we will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies.” An Iranian state news agency, Fars, also posted a video of Iran’s underground missile testing facility.
Iran’s ballistic capabilities are one of the most critical pillars of Iran's Islamist and militaristic ideology. Besides managing Iran’s nuclear program and supporting its Islamist proxies, the third important program of Iran’s revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is its ballistic missile program.
Iran possesses the largest ballistic missile program in the Middle East, even surpassing Israel. No country, except Iran, has acquired long range ballistic missiles before obtaining nuclear weapons. This makes IRGC one of the most formidable military institutions in the region. Ballistic missiles can be used for offensive or defensive purposes, but sophisticated missiles are mainly developed as delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons.
Tehran’s ballistic missiles can hit any country in the Middle East. But Iranian leaders are not satisfied with this capability and are looking to expand.
Iran’s ballistic technology has normally grown due to Iran's North Korea ties. But gradually, the Islamist clergy has relied on its domestic infrastructure and adapted new technology to expand its ballistic arsenal.
Iranian leaders have boasted about having an intercontinental ballistic missile, which can hit any place on the earth, even the United States, as it is capable of traveling over 9,000 miles.
Iran’s determination to have the most robust and largest ballistic missile arsenal in the region highlights Tehran’s ambitions for regional supremacy through militarization.
By emphasizing the need to fight the “enemies,” IRGC leaders have succeeded in rallying the Parliament (Majlis) and obtaining billions of the government’s revenue to spend on Iran’s ballistic and nuclear program. On the other hand, improving military capabilities has bolstered Islamists' support for the hold-on-power approach of the IRGC and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s expanding program and frequent test-fires are also aimed at imposing fear throughout the region. This inevitably leads to further destabilization and militarization of the region. For example, the United Arab Emirates previously signed a $3.3 billion dollar deal to buy missiles from the US firm Raytheon, to further invest in its weapon program.
Not only did the nuclear deal not temper Iran’s foreign policy and regional hegemonic ambitions, IRGC leaders appear to be more emboldened to manifest their military power.
Despite the efforts of the international community since the 1980s, the Islamic Republic has managed to expand its missile program to be the largest in the region. Despite the United Nations Security Council resolution 1929 that states “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities,” Iran’s missile range has grown from 500 miles to over 2,000 miles.
Iran’s flagrant breaches of the nuclear agreement make it clear that the agreement has been violated. Unfortunately, these actions and Iran's rapidly improving missile capabilities will not elicit any reaction from the Obama administration. In fact, these breaches of the JCPOA and UNSC resolutions are not going to change President Obama’s efforts to urge P5+1 to lift the ban on Iran’s ballistic program and remove sanctions by early next year.
The Obama administration is contributing to creating one of the largest threats to US national security in the region by ratcheting up IRGC’s military prowess and rallying more hard-line support behind IRGC in Iran.