The United States must take steps to neutralize the threat of Iran’s cruise missile program, researchers at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs wrote in The Wall Street Journal Monday.
Jonathan Ruhe and Blake Fleisher noted that while UN Security Council resolutions and the nuclear deal with Iran don’t prohibit the country from developing cruise missiles, which could carry a nuclear payload, the United States and its allies have the means to play a “bad hand well.” While China and Russia have an interest in supplying Iran with cruise missile technology, Security Council Resolution 2231, which supports the nuclear deal, requires that they get Security Council approval – which the United States, Britain, and France could veto.
Iranian cruise missiles could pose an even greater risk than Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program. Cruise missiles have a shorter launch time, making detecting a launch more difficult. And because a cruise missile’s trajectory is closer to the ground, rather than parabolic like a ballistic missile, it is harder to track.
Using a veto has been a suggested response to Iran’s purchase of Russian fighter jets as part of an $8 billion arms deal. The United States has said the sale of Su-30SM jets would violate the terms of Resolution 2231, which prohibits the sale of “combat aircraft” to Iran. However, some critics of the administration have raised doubts whether the United States will use the veto to block the sale.
While the nuclear deal imposed an eight-year ballistic missile ban on Iran, the Islamic Republic has already tested ballistic missiles twice since the deal was signed. A UN panel found an October ballistic missile test to be in violation of a different UN Security Council Resolution. In January, the United States imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and entities for their role in supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, these sanctions were characterized by Foundation for Defense of Democracies executive director Mark Dubowitz as being the “bare minimum.”
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