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U.S. Permissive Language Facilitates Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. Permissive Language Facilitates Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program

U.S. Permissive Language Facilitates Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program

New York- U.S. sources revealed the President Barack Obama’s administration has in one way or the other facilitated the ballistic missile launch for Iran. Allegations now haunt the Washington decision maker.

Colum Lynch, a reporter for U.S. Foreign Policy newspaper, wrote that Iranian officials spent the frantic final weeks before last year’s nuclear agreement pushing Washington to eliminate a long-standing U.N. prohibition on its ballistic missile program. They didn’t get the ban scrapped, but they did get it softened.

Now, eight months later, a recent series of Iranian missile tests has many in Washington angrily calling for new sanctions on Tehran. But Obama administration officials shouldn’t be surprised by Iran’s decision to test its standing on the international stage to fire the missiles; to the contrary, the nuclear deal may have made the missile launches inevitable.

Before the July 2015 nuclear pact, Iran was expressly prohibited by U.N. resolutions from launching ballistic missiles capable of developing nuclear weapons. U.N. Security Council resolution 1929 states that the 15-nation body “decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” In U.N. legal parlance, invoking the word “decides” places an unambiguous legal obligation on all states to comply.

In exchange for Iran’s signature on the nuclear accord, the United States granted Tehran greater room to advance with its ballistic missile program. Last July’s U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 replaced the prohibition with more permissive language.

At the time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other top administration officials portrayed the concession as a victory, saying they had successfully rejected attempts by Iran to entirely eliminate the prohibitions on ballistic missiles.

There’s just one problem: The updated measures are neither legally binding nor as restrictive as the measures in place at the time of the nuclear pact. In essence, resolution 2231 provides Iran with a

loophole big enough to develop medium- and long-range missiles without the risk of running afoul of Security Council dictates. It also complicates efforts to define what kinds of missiles are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The U.N. has long relied on guidelines for sensitive rocket technology set by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an informal group of 34 countries that seeks to impose export restrictions on equipment that can be used for nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. According to the MTCR, a ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers and a payload capacity of 500 kilograms, or roughly 186 miles and 1,100 pounds, is considered capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.