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WSJ Editorial: Ballistic Missile Tests Show that Iranian “Moderates” Work with Hardliners

Following this week’s ballistic missiles tests by Iran, which came after President Hassan Rouhani ordered his military to step the development of the weapons, an editorial (Google link) in The Wall Street Journal observed that “moderation, Iranian-style, is relative.”

“Tehran’s show of force—it also tested missiles on Tuesday—are not the work of the usual ‘hardline’ suspects. Iran tested ballistic missiles last fall in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution,” the editorial noted on Thursday. “[In] January Mr. Rouhani publicly ordered his defense minister to speed up missile testing and production,” again in defiance of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Rouhani’s order to accelerate Iran’s ballistic missile program in December breached the terms of UN Security Council resolution 2231, which implemented the nuclear deal and “[called] upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

In August, a month after agreeing to the nuclear deal, Rouhani expressed his opposition to any internationally imposed restrictions on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, declaring, “We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that.”

Iran carried out ballistic missile tests in both October and November of last year. A UN panel found that the October launch violated UN Security Council resolution 1929, which stated that Iran “shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”

Early on in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, an American diplomatic delegation sought to discuss Iran’s ballistic missile program with Iran’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, another so-called moderate. Zarif “merely laughed and ignored the remarks,” according to a Reuters report published at the time.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced on Tuesday that it had test-launched ballistic missiles at sites across the country, marking the third time that it violated UN Security Council bans on such tests in five months. Iran revealed on Wednesday that it had fired two more ballistic missiles, which it claimed had the phrase “Israel must be wiped off the face of the world” written on them in Hebrew.

Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the former U.S. lead negotiator with Iran, dispelled the notion that Rouhani was truly a moderate during a talk last month at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. “There are hardliners in Iran, and then there are hard-hardliners in Iran,” Sherman said. “Rouhani is not a moderate, he is a hardliner.”

[Photo: AFP news agency / YouTube ]