Both the White House and the State Department today readily acknowledged that Iran likely violated UN Security Council resolutions with weekend ballistic missile tests, but sought to distance these violations from the Iran nuclear agreement.
“We’ve got strong indications that those missile tests did violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that pertain to Iran’s ballistic missile activities. Unfortunately, that’s not new,” press secretary Josh Earnest said at the White House daily briefing.
“We have seen Iran on — almost serially violate the international community’s concerns about their ballistic missile program, and the UN Security Council resolution actually gives the international community some tools to interdict some equipment and material that could be used to advance their ballistic missile program and gives us the ability to work in concert with our partners around the world to engage a strategy to try to disrupt continued progress of their ballistic missile program,” he said.
But, Earnest insisted, it’s “altogether separate from the nuclear agreement that Iran reached with the rest of the world.”
“In contrast to the repeated violations of the UN Security Council resolution that pertains to their ballistic missile activities, we’ve seen that Iran over the last couple of years has demonstrated a track record of abiding by the commitments that they made in the context of the nuclear talks,” he said.
“And there was a lot of skepticism — remember even two or three years ago in the early stages of the nuclear talks, many critics of the administration said that engaging in these kinds of talks would be counterproductive because there was no way that Iran would abide by the commitments that they made, and in fact, Iran had previously used the cover of talks to make progress on their nuclear program. But over the last two or three years, we have seen Iran live up to some very tough standards when it comes to limiting their nuclear program.”
The Iranian parliament has signed off on the nuclear deal, and Earnest opined that “there is no coincidence that shortly after the Majlis signed off on the Iran deal, that there was a decision made by some inside of Iran to conduct ballistic missile tests that garnered the strong opposition and objection of the international community.”
Earnest said he sees the parliamentary approval as “an indication that we continue to be on a path toward the successful implementation of this international agreement.”
Afterward at the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner agreed with the White House assessment and added that “these kind of missile tests are not a violation of the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], which has been some of the questions that we’ve gotten about this, because the focus of the JCPA clearly is on Iran’s nuclear program.”
“But any conventional arms transfers and missile activities currently prohibited by existing UNSCRs or UNSC resolutions or prohibited in the future by UNSCR 2231 would be violations of Iran’s UN obligations and should be dealt with through the appropriate UN channels,” Toner said. “So we’re going to raise the incident at the UN and then we’ll continue to do this for any and all Iranian violations of UN Security Council resolutions.”
“I mean, you know, we’ve seen for the past years that Iran has consistently ignored UN Security Council resolutions, and so, you know, obviously, it would be — it’s deeply concerning that this latest violation does appear to be a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, and we’ll obviously raise this at the UNSC as we have done in previous launches.”