Time for cool heads on Iran
It seems that Iran is angry. How else to interpret its most recent ballistic missile tests, which are surely intended more as a retaliation to the United States than as a provocation to the European Union?
Nevertheless, while countries such as France, the UK and Germany are struggling to counteract the withdrawal of the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the missile tests have forced them to stand with Washington in condemning Tehran’s actions.
France and the UK, permanent members of the UN Security Council, have asked for a meeting to review the tests and assess whether Iran has violated UN resolution 2231, which gave effect to the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the end of sanctions.
Iran’s position — stated often by President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and most recently by Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi — is that nothing in the nuclear deal or the UN resolution restricts Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The rest of the world has a different interpretation of the resolution, which requests that Iran refrain from testing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. In addition, the sale or transfer to Iran of any missile materials, equipment and technology is prohibited. However since such equipment and technology may also have non-military purposes, a country that wishes to sell them to Iran may file a request to the Security Council, which is required to examine the requests case by case.
The decision of President Donald Trump to withdraw from the agreement was the most significant step in undermining the fundamental principle of Resolution 2231, which ultimately undermined the legitimacy of the resolution and its full implementation.
With all these obligations and requirements, it should not be at all easy for Iran to acquire what it needs to build and test missiles. Indeed, on the UN Security Council website there is a special page devoted to the restrictions on the development, manufacture and testing of ballistic missile technology in Iran. There are no complaints on this page.
Nevertheless, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of violating the Security Council resolution that enacts the 2015 nuclear deal.
There is a further complication in that the principle violator of UN Resolution 2231 is not, in fact, Iran — it is the United States. The resolution promotes the achievement of a multilateral agreement to an international instrument whose implementation is mandated by the Security Council. That means not only the signatories, but all the countries of the world, should act on its content.
For this reason, the decision of President Donald Trump to withdraw from the agreement was the most significant step in undermining the fundamental principle of Resolution 2231, which ultimately undermined the legitimacy of the resolution and its full implementation.
At this critical time, the Western powers must surely understand that if they leave the agreement because of Iran’s violations of Resolution 2231, clearly Iran will act more aggressively to take revenge for the humiliation suffered as a result of the US withdrawal, and then the EU’s lack of support.
The best thing everyone can do is to hold back and watch the US for the next action.
- Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist, political commentator and author of Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Twitter: @CameliaFard