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Expert: White House’s New Iran Sanctions For Ballistic Missile Violations Are “Bare Minimum”

Facing strong bipartisan Congressional pressure, the Obama administration is preparing to impose new sanctions on Iran for its illicit ballistic missile program, The Wall Street Journal reported (Google link) Wednesday. But one expert is characterizing the new sanctions as being the “bare minimum” the administration could do under the circumstances.

The new sanctions, which the Treasury Department will announce next week, come in the wake of two Iranian ballistic missile tests in October and November. A United Nations panel formally found two weeks ago that the October launch violated United Security Council Resolution 1929.

The new sanctions, the first to be announced since the nuclear deal was announced in July, would target companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates for their work in developing Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The Journal reported:

The sanctions being prepared by the Treasury Department relate to two Iran-linked networks alleged to be involved in developing the country’s missile program and include sanctions on many of the individuals involved. The sanctions would prohibit U.S. or foreign nationals from conducting business with the blacklisted firms. U.S. banks are also ordered to freeze any assets the companies or individuals hold inside the American financial system.

However, some regional experts were skeptical that the sanctions would be enough. “While the Obama administration has finally done something to push back against illegal Iranian ballistic-missile testing, these latest measures are the bare minimum,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Journal. Jonathan Schanzer, the think tank’s vice president for research, told Business Insider that since Iran is poised to rejoin the international banking system and the SWIFT financial transaction network, the new sanctions amount to “window dressing.”

The administration’s inaction after the October launch prompted 11 Democratic senators to write a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing their “profound concern” about the launch, adding that they “are also convinced that the launch is an attempt to test the world’s will to respond to Iranian violations of its international commitments.” Earlier this month, Senators Mark Kirk (R – Ill.) and Kelly Ayotte (R – N.H.) wrote a letter to President Barack Obama criticizing the lack of a response to both launches,emphasizing the threat that the advanced missiles posed to the United States and its allies.

The terms of the nuclear deal between Iran and major global powers prevent the United States from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, but Kerry told a Senate hearing in July that the Iranians agreed that “that we have all other kinds of authorities” to impose sanctions for non-nuclear violations by Iran.

[Photo: NPR / YouTube ]