GOP presses Obama on calling Iran missile tests a ‘violation’

Republican lawmakers are demanding to know why the Obama administration hasn’t yet labeled Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests as a violation of a United Nations resolution.

“More than three weeks have passed since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s dangerous missile launches, yet there has still been no U.S. declaration of a ‘violation,’ only that the tests are ‘inconsistent with’ and just ‘in defiance of’” the resolution, GOP Reps. Mike Pompeo (Kan.), Peter Roskam (Ill.) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.) wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry released Friday. “The seeming American refusal to name these Iranian tests as violations is in direct conflict with the administration’s earlier commitments.”

{mosads}Iran rocked the international community in March when it tested multiple ballistic missiles two days in a row.

The tests infuriated Republicans and some Democrats, who said the move demanded a strong response from the United States.

A U.N. Security Council response to the tests has been stalled because of an interpretation of the resolution at hand.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which was passed in July in support of the nuclear deal with Iran, says that, “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Russia, which has Security Council veto power, has said the tests aren’t a violation since the resolution is a “call,” not a “ban.”

Pompeo, Roskam and Zeldin called Russia’s argument “absurd.”

“The Kremlin’s absurd legal argument after Iran’s March tests that ‘legally you cannot violate a call’ would essentially allow the Iranian regime to do anything it wants to further develop its ballistic missile program,” they wrote. “Russia’s refusal to punish Iran, combined with its veto and China’s veto on the Security Council, will continue to prevent any real international effort to respond to Iranian infractions.”

The lawmakers in particular took issue with the wording of a letter the United States, Britain, France and Germany sent to Spanish U.N. Ambassador Román Oyarzun Marchesi and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. 

Reuters reported Wednesday the letter says the launches were “inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons” and that they were “inconsistent with” and “in defiance of” the U.N. resolution. But the letter doesn’t use the word “violation,” according to Reuters.

They asked Kerry why the letter didn’t include the word violation and why the United States hasn’t made it’s own declaration that the tests were a violation.

They also want to know if the administration has decided whether the tests violate the resolution, whether administration officials were instructed to tell Congress ballistic missile tests would violate the resolution prior to the nuclear deal’s implementation and how the administration plans to respond to the latest tests.

They asked for answers by May 1. 

“While many lawmakers, ourselves included, are certain that Iran’s latest tests violate” the resolution, they wrote, “your decision to cease labeling the launches a violation is alarming.”

Tags John Kerry

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