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WSJ Editorial: Senate Sanctions Bills are “Good Start” to Countering Iranian Missile Program

Bills that aim to place sanctions on Iran due to the continued development of its ballistic missile program are a “good start,” a Wall Street Journal editorial argued on Tuesday.

Past UN Security Council resolutions demanded that Iran “shall not” develop ballistic missiles, but Resolution 2231, which is one of the main components of last year’s nuclear deal, only “calls upon” Iran not to develop them, a loophole allowing it to continue to test-launch missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and strike long-distance targets. With Russia threatening to veto any future UN sanctions to stop Iran’s continued missile development, the bills, sponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are “designed to confront Iran on its belligerent behavior,” the Journal wrote. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top members of their parties on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced on Friday that they were working on a similar, bipartisan sanctions bill.

Citing recent research by Foundation for Defense of Democracies associate fellow Saeed Ghasseminejad, the editorial observed that the ballistic missile program “is deeply intertwined with Iran’s legitimate economy, including the automotive, energy, construction and mining industries.” Therefore, the strategy for countering the program must involve economic sanctions “against all sectors involved in their development.”

The Ayotte bill, would “impose tough primary and secondary sanctions on every sector of the Iranian economy that directly or indirectly supports Iran’s ballistic missile program,” according to a statement released by her office.

Kirk said in a statement introducing his bill that it would target “Iran’s terrorist activities, illegal missile testing, funding Assad’s war, and human rights abuses.”  The bill would impose sanctions on “any business in which the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps holds a 25% or larger stake, as well as the directors of such firms,” the Journal explained. “The bill specifically targets Mahan Air, an Iranian passenger airline that provides logistical assistance to the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah in Syria, according to the U.S. Treasury.”

Kirk noted that Secretary of State John Kerry said in a Senate hearing last July that non-nuclear sanctions would not violate the nuclear deal. “We will not violate the [deal] if we use our authorities to impose sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights, missiles, or other nonnuclear reasons,” Kerry said at the time. “And the [deal] does not provide Iran any relief from United States sanctions under any of those authorities or other authorities.’’

[Photo: CBS News / YouTube ]