Iran is again making headlines on the world stage by testing a ballistic missile this week. This launch on Sunday, January 29th, is in defiance of the U.N. resolution 2231, which was put into place days after the Iran nuclear deal was signed and it calls on Iran not to conduct such tests. The resolution bars Iran from these tests and went into effect in July 2015, but Sunday’s test was Iran’s second one since the summer.
“Iran’s missile tests are an unacceptable act of aggression-something we have seen occur time and again for the last 18 months,” said Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, CEO of the non-profit United Against Nuclear Iran.
President Trump spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Sunday, and both agreed to the importance of addressing the destabilizing activities of Iran in the region. Israel is also going to address the issue with President Trump at a meeting on February 15.
“I will meet President Trump in Washington soon, and among the issues I will address, is the need to renew the sanctions against Iran,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook Monday. “Sanctions against the ballistic missiles, and other sanctions against the terror, and readdressing the failed agreement on its nuclear capabilities.”
Iran claims these tests are not a violation of the nuclear agreement because these missiles are not designed to carry a nuclear warhead.
The new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned Iran that its testing of a long range ballistic missile is unacceptable and an act the United States believes violates its nuclear accord. “The United States is not naïve. We are not going to stand by. You will see us call them out as we said we would and you are also going to see us act accordingly.”
The question is what actions are appropriate in dealing with the Iranian regime? For many, sanctions are the best way to reduce the influence of Iran in the region. But in opposition front to the Iranian regime, including the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), to curtail the regime it is crucial to blacklist the Iranian Revolutionary Guards-Council (IRGC) too.
By blacklisting the IRGC as a terrorist agency and imposing serious sanctions, the international community would send a strong message to Iran that their exporting of terror into the region will not be tolerated. Additionally, the international community needs to demand the expulsion of the IRGC from the region, but in particular Iraq and Syria.
The regime’s serious human rights violations must also be addressed. In January 2017 alone, over 90 prisoners were hanged. Executions under the moderate leadership of President Hassan Rouhani have continued unabated. Political prisoners continue to receive long prison terms and death sentences without the benefit of legal representation.
Oppression of the press and those who question the regime also continues with torture, beatings and public punishments, all of which are meant to keep the Iranian people under control. For these reasons alone, the international community needs to take a firm and principled stand against the Iranian regime. Many leaders within the international community feel that sanctions for Iran’s human rights violations would be the best path to bring about change in Iran.
Recommendations were given to then President Obama to suspend sanction relief to Iran after it tested ballistic missiles in 2015. Without a firm response from the international community, Iran and the IRGC will continue to export terror into the Middle East and the world. Sanctions and the consequences of naming the IRGC a terrorist organization can have a greater impact on Iran’s course of action than allowing them to continue to act without an appropriate response from world leaders.
Additionally, efforts need to be made to continue to limit contraband materials and technologies for these missiles from entering Iran. Without these efforts, Iran will continue to defy the international community with these ballistic missile tests.