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Eleven Senate Democrats Express “Profound Concern” to Kerry over Iran Ballistic Missile Launch

Eleven Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.), sent a letter yesterday to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing their concern over Iran’s recent test launch of a ballistic missile.

We are writing to express our profound concern about Iran’s October 11 ballistic missile test.

United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power clearly stated that Iran’s test was a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 which specifically states that “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”

We are concerned about the military significance of this test, which is part of a long-term Iranian program that seeks to improve the range and capabilities of its ballistic missiles. We are also convinced that the launch is an attempt to test the world’s will to respond to Iranian violations of its international commitments.

We strongly believe that the ability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to prevent Iran from fulfilling its nuclear ambitions must be fortified by a zero-tolerance policy to respond to violations of the agreement and of applicable UN resolutions – and a unified plan of action between the United States and our European allies about what specific responses should be deployed to respond to incremental violations.

There must be no ambiguity in our willingness to enforce Iran’s obligations under UN resolutions and the JCPOA.

We urge you to consider unilateral and multilateral responses to this ballistic missile test. We believe calibrated pressure on Iran is appropriate due to its clear non-compliance with UNSCR 1929 and to deter future violations.

In addition to Cardin, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Schumer, who is expected to become the leader of Senate Democrats in 2017, the letter’s signatories included Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Cardin and Schumer were the only members of the group to oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.

The decision to add a provision to the nuclear agreement that lifts the conventional arms embargo against Iran after five years and the ballistic missile embargo after eight years previously caused Bennet, Blumenthal, and Coons to express reservations about the deal. Blumenthal, Coons, Booker, and Wyden all mentioned significant objections to aspects of the agreement in their statements of support.

Iran initially announced that it was scheduling ballistic missile tests in August and carried out the launches earlier this month. Last week, Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, indicated that the tests violated Security Council resolutions banning the Islamic Republic from ballistic missile development.

Yesterday, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany sent a letter to the United Nations sanctions committee urging it to take “appropriate action” against Iran for its “serious violation” of the ban on ballistic missile development. Earlier that day, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that “the nuclear deal will be rendered void,” if there is any attempt to reimpose sanctions for any reason on Iran.

[Photo: Senate Democrats / Flickr ]