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Washington Post Editors: U.S. Should Penalize Iran for Ballistic Missile Tests

The editors of The Washington Post called on [1] the Obama administration to take action against Iran for ballistic missile tests it carried out since agreeing to last year’s nuclear deal on Wednesday.

While crediting Iran with complying with “the principal terms” of the nuclear deal, the editors pointed out that Iran “has aggressively exploited loopholes in the agreement and tried to create new ones.” They also faulted the Islamic Republic for repeatedly launching ballistic missiles since October of last year, in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231, which formalized the nuclear deal and called on Iran to stop developing ballistic missiles.

The editors then contrasted Iran’s defiance with the administration’s tepid response to Tehran’s provocations.

Tehran’s behavior comes as no surprise to the many observers who predicted the deal would not alter its hostility to the West or its defiance of international norms. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s response has also been much as critics predicted: It has done its best to play down Iran’s violations and avoid any conflict out of fear that the regime might walk away from a centerpiece of President Obama’s legacy.

While taking limited action against a number of individuals and companies involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, the administration acquiesced to Russian and Iranian objections and hesitated to call Iran’s most recent ballistic missile tests a violation of resolution 2231, the editors noted. They also questioned the administration’s decision to look into allowing Iran indirect access to dollars in order to facilitate the Islamic Republic’s ability to make deals in the wake of the nuclear deal.

Administration officials say the action may be needed to comply with the spirit of the nuclear deal, which promised Iran access to its frozen assets and the resumption of international trade. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the accord’s architect, said Tuesday that the regime “deserves the benefits of the deal they struck.” There’s logic to that. But there’s also a problem of reciprocity: Should the United States take steps not strictly mandated by the text of the nuclear accord at a time when Iran is testing nuclear-capable missiles?

The editors also hailed a bipartisan effort by Sen. Bob Corker (R – Tenn.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which “would mandate sanctions against all Iranian entities, including financial institutions, connected to the missile program and renew the broader Iran Sanctions Act.” Such an approach would send “Iran the message that its infractions will be costly.”

Although the editors of The Washington Post supported the nuclear deal, they have consistently called on the administration to penalize Iranian misbehavior.

A Washington Post editorial in October 2014 observed [2] that Iran had not budged on any of its demands since negotiations on a final nuclear deal had begun eleven months earlier. An editorial about the emerging framework agreement warned [3] in March of last year that, as it stood, a nuclear deal would reward Iran for its past violations. Prior to the announcement of the nuclear agreement, another editorial observed [4] that the administration’s failure to challenge Iran on a reported violation suggested that it found that “overlooking Iranian cheating is easier than confronting it.”

[Photo: Wall Street Journal / YouTube [5] ]