On Sunday, Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test since President Trump took office. The administration called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, but Trump has not personally spoken about it, nor has the United States taken any other action. Instead, press secretary Sean Spicer said: “We’re aware that Iran fired that missile. We’re looking into the exact nature of it.” He sounded, needless to say, unprepared.
The State Department was better prepared but showed no evidence of any change in policy from the Obama administration. CNN reported:
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement Tuesday that the US is “well aware of and deeply troubled by Iran’s longstanding provocative and irresponsible activities.”
Toner added that Iran must fully implement UN resolution 2231, which is not part of the Iran nuclear deal but “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” The UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting Tuesday to discuss the test, which the US said involved a ballistic missile.
Rather than preparing for a divisive and ineffectual travel ban, the administration should have used the transition to find a new Iran policy. Trump has denounced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the Obama Iran policy plenty of times. He just is not ready to do anything about it.
On Monday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, put out a statement in which he cited the United Nations resolution that calls “upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” He continued, “No longer will Iran be given a pass for its repeated ballistic missile violations, continued support of terrorism, human rights abuses and other hostile activities that threaten international peace and security. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to hold Iran accountable for this and other violations while ensuring radical enforcement of existing restrictions on its nuclear program.” The administration and Congress can cooperate and pressure Iran, but the administration shows no sign it is ready to act.
Michael Makovsky of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) argues in an email to Right Turn that “We should threaten to shoot them down, especially if they leave their borders, and we should construct a regional defense shield.”
An aide to a senior Republican senator tells me, “Hold Iran accountable for its dangerous, non-nuclear activities. The administration insisted that this behavior was not covered by the deal and therefore could be acted against, but once the deal was signed, it insisted that any attempt to punish Iran for its support for terrorism/human rights violations would ruin the deal.”
Perhaps the administration is too busy with its counterproductive, unnecessary and fury-inducing executive order, but right now Trump has no Iran policy. He has mired himself in an unwinnable fight with Congress, the courts and his own administration. The mullahs are testing him and are finding him an easy mark.