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Let's Make a Deal
Iran Forges Ahead With Its Ballistic Missiles

Iran is upgrading its military capabilities, including a ballistic missile system capable of carrying nuclear weapons, as Reuters reports:

Iran will unveil an upgrade of its Emad ballistic missiles this year, the defense minister was quoted as saying, advancing a program that has drawn criticism from the United Nations and sanctions from the United States.

The Islamic Republic would also start taking delivery of an advanced Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system in the next two months, Hossein Dehghan added – a system that was blocked before a landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

Tehran agreed the deal on curbing its nuclear work in July last year and international sanctions were lifted in January. But tensions with Washington have remained high as Tehran continues to develop its military capabilities.

Iran is testing the limits of the nuclear deal and a UN resolution that proscribes Iranian ballistic missile testing. This isn’t the first time Iran has done this, and each such step puts Washington in a bind: either watch the instruments of international law that are supposed to contain Iran erode before our eyes, or react—but how?  The Obama Administration has demonstrated its reluctance to use military force, which in any case would be seen internationally in these matters as an overreaction. On the other hand, though, while Washington imposed targeted sanctions last month on the Iranian missile program, without the international sanctions regime that was previously crippling Iran’s economy, they no longer have as much sting in them.

Just as worrying are the broader strategic implications. The main justifications for Obama’s Iran deal was the idea that breaking the ice with the Iranians could lead to a thaw in relations. This is decidedly not what moderation looks like, however. Add to this the foundering of the Geneva peace talks and the advance of the Iranian-Russian-Assad forces towards Aleppo, as well as the recent refusal of Iranian hardliners to allow moderates to contest upcoming elections (even the Ayatollah Khomenei’s grandson has been barred for moderate sympathies), and you start to get the idea that engagement with Iran is maybe not working out quite the way some in the Obama Administration hoped it would.

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  • Beauceron

    “This isn’t the first time Iran has done this,
    and each such step puts Washington in a bind: either watch the
    instruments of international law that are supposed to contain Iran erode
    before our eyes, or react”

    You forget, there’s a third option:

    3) Quietly argue that Iran is not in fact violating the deal at all, and that Iran remains in a hermetically sealed vault, protected forever– or at least decades– from getting a nuke. if it all become too absurd, then move to the argument that Iranian moves aren’t threatening, and insinuate that anyone who disagrees is a coward who lives in fear and they should stop basing policy on their irrational fears. Failing that, insist self-righteously that anyone who says Iran might not be honoring the deal is a warmonger who hates peace; thow in a bit about Islamophobia for good measure.

    Problem solved!

  • Rick Johnson

    After eight years of Obama, America despartely needs a grown up in the White House.
    Is there any chance Americans will elect one?

    • Fat_Man

      My Magic 8 Ball® says: “Outlook not so good”

  • Fat_Man

    So the debate continues: is the Obama administration incompetent? or is it just on the other side? I am leaning toward the healing power of “and”, which is the only comfort I can find in the situation. It would be too horrifying otherwise.

  • adk

    From the Dept of Egregious Understatement:
    “…you start to get the idea that engagement with Iran is maybe not working out quite the way some in the Obama Administration hoped it would.”

    On the other hand, some others in the Obama Administration, including Himself, were determined to give Iran free hand no matter what — and that did work. Now their main task is to run out the clock ignoring everything short of the proverbial mushroom cloud. In that, they continue to get a great deal of help from MSM royal spinners such as this one interviewing Kerry:

    …And he discussed the nuclear deal with Iran, arguably his biggest diplomatic achievement, likening the Iranian pragmatists’ battle against hard-liners there to his fights with Congress.

    “The hard-liners made Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif and President [Hassan] Rouhani’s life very difficult, just as hard-liners in the United States had a role in making — oppositionists, I wouldn’t call them hard-liners, I’d call them oppositionists . . . made it difficult for our negotiations,” Kerry said.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kerry-signals-crunch-time-on-syria/2016/02/09/3ba135ec-cf63-11e5-abc9-ea152f0b9561_story.html

  • ARMSTROB

    Thank you Obama/Clinton/Kerry and the others in this administration. We owe you so much gratitude.

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