The ink has barely dried on the nuclear treaty with Iran when the country violates United Nations (UN) prohibitions on long range missile testing. The Iranian government denies that the launch made earlier this month violates Security Council Resolution 2231, because the new missile they are using is not designed to carry nuclear weapons. The claim would be laughable, were it not so so serious. For those nonsensical politicians in the West who still believe that any agreement signed with Iran will be honored, this once again demonstrates the foolhardiness of the effort.
The French foreign ministry objected to the test, knowing fully well that any missile can be refitted to carry nuclear weapons. The United States Ambassador Samantha Power to her credit also registered a complaint stating the obvious about retrofitting a missile, so it is capable of carrying almost any weapon of choice. However, she insisted that the missile tested had medium range capability only. Regardless, Iran was in violation of the UN resolution of 2010 that bans such activity.
Although Iran did not specify the range of the new domestically produced missile, named Imad the distance it can travel does matter. It is not just a matter of semantics. A medium range device has a maximum reach of less than 3,500 kilometers or 2,175 miles. The Iranians already have the ability to strike Israel which is a little more than 1,100 miles from Iran.
The real issue here is how much of Europe will now be vulnerable to attack. A flight from Teheran the Iranian capital to Paris, France is a little less than 3,500 miles. So at this point, the Europeans would still be mostly out of reach. It is still possible to force the Iranians to end this new endeavor.
It is not really clear what is the actual capability of the new Iranian missile. What is certain is that they will continue their program, until they are able to strike European capitals within the next few years and within the decade, American cities. Anyone thinking this is not the ultimate objective, has not been listening to the anti-American demonstrations taking place in Iranian cities. Death to Israel and America is a constant theme and one certainly endorsed by the Iranian regime.
After the missile launch, the Obama Administration through their spokesman Josh Earnest admitted there were strong indications it had violated U.N. sanctions. He went on to say that the United States had seen Iran almost serially violate the international community’s concerns about their ballistic missile program.
One might be led to believe that at last, the American government would have misgivings about the recently signed nuclear agreement with Iran. They would be mistaken. Mr Earnest was quick to point out that these new violations,are entirely separate from the historic nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers, which is aimed at preventing its development of nuclear weapons. The statements made by the Press Secretary are dangerously naive, given the past behavior of the Iranian regime.
Security Council Resolution 2231 voted on a few days after the the nuclear deal was signed last July, can be viewed as an attempt to provide Western powers a backup in case Iran did not honor its pledge. The Iranians are also in violation of another U.N. Resolution that was agreed upon in 2010, as confirmed by Samantha Power the American Ambassador.
One wonders what the Iranians would have to do before members of the Obama Administration and the other signatories of the so called landmark agreement, would understand that the Iranians have no intention of abiding by the treaty. The accord will become another meaningless piece of paper, much like the nuclear pact signed with the North Koreans, who are now a confirmed nuclear power. It is somewhat ironic that the same person (Wendy R. Sherman) who was involved with the failed agreement with the Koreans, is now participating with the recent accord with the Iranians.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif recently explained in a news conference that nuclear weapons have no place in the military doctrine of Iran. So therefore he insisted the missile program of the Islamic Republic does not go against any U.N. resolutions. He would not be the first government official to lie about the true intentions of the Iranian regime and certainly will not be the last.
This week the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany called on the United Nations Security Council’s Iran Sanctions Committee, to act upon the missile test that they claim violates the U.N. ban. The issue has already been discussed in the 15 member Security Council. Unfortunately, any new actions are likely to be blocked by both China and Russia.
What can the Sanctions Committee really do in light of the recent nuclear deal? Not very much. They could possibly add more individuals and various entities within Iran, to a sanctioned blacklist. However, these additional movements as stated above, will be vetoed by the Chinese and Russian representatives to the U.N Security Council.
The problem is most of the present sanctions will be lifted in exchange for an Iranian commitment to curb its nuclear program. Once the treaty is actually in effect some time next year, the Iranians are being asked to refrain from further work on ballistic missiles, designed to carry nuclear weapons for up to eight years. The present deal even allows for a some missile technology to be transferred to Iran with approval of the Security Council, but the United States has so far pledged to veto such endeavors.
Furthermore, any effort to impose new sanctions will violate the nuclear agreement according to the Iranian government. So at this point there is very little that can be done to restrain the latest moves by the Iranian military.
What did the signatories of the nuclear deal signed on July 14th expect? China and Russia wanted the sanctions removed for strategic and trade reasons. France, Germany, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States all went forward with a treaty, that they must of known would be difficult to enforce and monitor with the intransigent Iranian regime.
A number of analysts and commentators feel that a military showdown with Iran, has merely been postponed to a later date. This seems increasingly likely, since the guarantors to the nuclear deal are at odds. It seems quite evident that China and Russia will permit Iran to continue to violate the various facets of the agreement. All the Western Powers can do is to protest, as each part of the treaty gets undermined.
Historically, a comparison can be drawn to what the German government did in response to the assorted military restrictions placed on it by the Treaty of Versailles. One by one, these prohibitions were dismantled by the Germans, who took advantage of the disunity and weakness of the Western position. They could count on the foolish politicians at the time, who assumed pieces of signed paper and promises would prevent the German armaments buildup.
In the end, these halfhearted attempts to stop the the rearming of Germany failed. No one at that time wanted to face the reality except possibly the French, that force would be necessary to deter the German government from increasing belligerency. When it was finally decided that German aggression had to be resisted, war was inevitable. The time to stop Germany and possibly prevent
war, was before the country was in a position to attempt a military solution.
Unfortunately, this lesson it seems will need to be relearned. The Iranian regime much like Germany in the mid to late 1930’s, is intent to seek hegemony in the Middle East. When it is finally decided that Iran must be resisted, it will come at a far higher price than any one can imagine. It could well lead to a nuclear holocaust, depending how far along the Iranians are with their atomic program.
At the very least it will involve air, naval and ground forces that will take down the Iranian regime by force. One wonders if the West will ever have the spirit to initiate such an action, even if the very survival of their individual countries would be at stake?
At the very least, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is already underway. Although not confirmed, it is quite evident that Israel has thermonuclear capability. As Iran moves ever closer to domination of the region, Saudi Arabia will either develop their own program or buy one on the open market. The United Arab Emirates for example, is already clamoring for the right to develop their own program.
How did the international community arrive at this juncture? There are four considerations that led to the present development. One, is the sanctions regimen against Iran was falling apart because there was ample cheating by different companies and a number of nations, that worked to get around the international prohibitions.
The second was domestic politics. Leaders in many countries were being asked by corporate and industrial leaders to allow trade with Iran. It is a ready market that in the present slowing world economy, is a welcome new opportunity for many financially hard pressed companies.
The third was the war weariness of the public in many Western nations, most noteworthy Western Europe and the United States. The idea that war with Iran was now fast approaching permitted political leadership the leverage they needed, to strike a deal even a poor one at that, with the recalcitrant Iranian regime.
The fourth was the belief that a diplomatic solution would not only provide political benefits with the electorate now, in the countries responsible for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear agreement, but would provide a significant legacy to those politicians once they leave office.
It is true the sanctions regime was becoming less effective,but this was a result of the Western decision to be less forceful in the enforcement of the program. Regardless of the politics and sentiments involved, sanctions were actually working. It is what brought the Iranians to the negotiating table to begin with. That it also had a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable in Iranian society, is also quite true. The people of Iran were suffering under economic sanctions as is always the case, when a defiant government refuses to follow supposed international law.
There are Western companies that are waiting anxiously to begin setting up operations in Iran. Many of them are worried that the Chinese and Russians have already developed the necessary contacts, that will give them the competitive edge. When Iran finally gains access to their frozen assets worth up to $150 billion USD (United States Dollar), it could be a bonanza for a number of companies.
Furthermore, Iran will also be permitted to sell far more oil. It could eventually produce more than an extra million barrels a day, giving the country far more foreign exchange earnings to purchase goods from abroad. Of course, there is as much as 2 million barrels a day being produced globally that is considered surplus, meaning there is no market for it. Iran exported nearly 1.4 million barrels a day in 2014, well below the 2.6 million that was done in 2011 before sanctions really began to have their effect.
After sanctions are relaxed, Iran could increase productions by about 400,000 barrels a day and an additional 500,000 within a year, as oil wells that were shut down are brought back into production. There are also some 20 million barrels in storage, that could be sold as soon as customers are found.
However, given the current low global price of oil which is now below $50.00 USD a barrel, much of the Iranian production will not be economical to produce. In addition, the prospect of increasing production will bring world prices for crude down to even lower levels. So the Iranian market may not be as lucrative as many of the eager business leaders and investors suppose.
A further concern should be how secure any foreign investments in the country will be, with a overzealous regime in power? The issue of a return of international sanctions, a possible Iranian government confiscation of assets, or the prospect of a wider war in the region, should bring pause to many would be investors.
Yes the possibility of war has been prevented for the moment, but as explained previously a showdown with the Iranian regime is just a matter of time. The day of reckoning has merely been postponed. A nation like Iran that is willing to take the measures necessary to achieve hegemony in the Middle East, is unlikely to back down in the face of increasing Western threats in the use of force.
Finally,the present political benefits derived from the nuclear deal are unlikely to stand the test of time. The continued funding of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas will be enhanced. As the violence escalates, it will be perpetually traced back to these organizations. The expanding Iranian support in a number of proxy wars as witnessed in Yemen and Syria, is just the beginning of the kind of instability that will be brought by a resurgent Iran.
As an increasing number of allies of Europe and the United States are threatened and undermined by Iran, the folly of the nuclear deal will become far more evident. The specter of a much wider war in the Middle East will arrive soon enough, necessitating involvement from European powers as well as the United States. It will be easy enough, to reflect how the unfolding disaster was allowed to develop. History will not be kind to these foolish politicians who negotiated away not only the security of their allies in the region, but that of their own country as well.