August 7, 2015
“Under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.” That was the stark warning from Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on June 8, 2015, little more than a month before the P5+1 negotiators struck an agreement with Iran on July 14.
The official deadline had passed eight days before, but reports indicate that the talks were extended, at least in part, because Iran demanded the insertion of a non-nuclear-related provision into the agreement – the immediate lifting of ballistic missile sanctions. And indeed, the final deal included non-nuclear provisions dealing with the sale of ballistic missile components to Iran.
Trading North Korea for Russia and China
Under the pending deal, Iran not only gets to improve its own capabilities through R&D, but also to purchase advanced conventional weaponry and ballistic missile components from states like Russia and China. Previously, Iran could rely only on North Korea as a military patron. Michael Singh, managing director of the Washington Institute, ominously warns: “If the sanctions are fully lifted without Iran pledging to cease or limit its arms trafficking and ballistic missile activities, the next U.S. president will be left to find different options–likely more forceful or less effective–to counter Iranian behavior.”
The Fine Print
Like many dubious agreements, it’s the fine print that is most worrying. The fine print of the nuclear deal shows why Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold warns that Iran will soon have intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States.
After all, Iran’s ballistics are already advanced enough to deliver a payload to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, or its largest metropolitan area, Tel Aviv. The ballistic missile sanctions have been a crucial measure to cut off Iran’s ability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States. America after all, is the “Great Satan,” against which Iran’s leaders pontificate; Israel is only the “Little Satan.” If the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror—a state which considers itself the sworn enemy of the United States and our ally Israel—also has the Middle East’s largest, most advanced ballistic missile arsenal, one that could one day threaten devastation across the region and on our side of the Atlantic Ocean, that’s cause for genuine concern.