The Washington Post's editorial board is taking the Obama administration to task over its hopelessly weak Iran policy, under which escalating Iranian provocations and violations are excused or ignored -- all in the name of preserving the terrible (unsigned and non-binding) nuclear agreement Obama views as the crown jewel of his foreign policy legacy. Smart Power at work:
IRAN IS following through on the nuclear deal it struck with a U.S.-led coalition in an utterly predictable way: It is racing to fulfill those parts of the accord that will allow it to collect $100?billion in frozen funds and end sanctions on its oil exports and banking system, while expanding its belligerent and illegal activities in other areas — and daring the West to respond. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s response to these provocations has also been familiar. It is doing its best to downplay them — and thereby encouraging Tehran to press for still-greater advantage. We’ve pointed out how the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has unjustly sentenced Post correspondent Jason Rezaian to prison and arrested two businessmen with U.S. citizenship or residence since signing the nuclear accord. There have been no penalties for those outrageous violations of human rights. Now a United Nations panel has determined that Iran test-fired a nuclear-capable missile on Oct. 10 with a range of at least 600 miles, in violation of a U.N. resolution that prohibits such launches. Moreover, it appears likely that a second missile launch occurred on Nov. 21, also in violation of Security Council Resolution 1929...
It’s not hard to guess the reasons for this fecklessness. President Obama is reluctant to do anything that might derail the nuclear deal before Iran carries out its commitments, including uninstalling thousands of centrifuges and diluting or removing tons of enriched uranium. The same logic prompted him to tolerate Iran’s malign interventions in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, along with the arrest of Mr. Rezaian, while the pact was under negotiation. U.S. officials argue that Iran’s nonnuclear violations make it all the more important that the nuclear deal be implemented. But that ignores the clear connections between the missile launches and Tehran’s ambitions to become a nuclear power. The only practical military purpose of the missiles the regime is testing is to carry atomic warheads. And while missile launches are not prohibited by the nuclear pact itself, the separate resolution banning them remains in effect until the deal is implemented, after which a new resolution takes effect that calls on Iran not to develop such missiles for eight years. By flouting the U.N. resolutions, Iran is clearly testing the will of the United States and its allies to enforce the overall regime limiting its nuclear ambitions. If there is no serious response, it will press the boundaries in other areas — such as the inspection regime.
Just this week, we discovered that Iranian 'cyberspies' hacked into the controls of a New York dam two years ago, when nuclear negotiations were underway. The regime has stepped up its cyber warfare against the United States since the deal was reached, as the State Department confirms that Tehran's material support terrorism is "undiminished." The Post editors' point about Iran's illegal missile tests is particularly trenchant. Iran is probing Western weakness, testing just how flagrantly they can violate nuclear-related international restrictions without suffering serious consequences -- such as the revocation of the hundreds of billions in sanctions relief they prize. The response they've received from the Obama administration is the geopolitical equivalent of a shrug. Obama has his political document, and that's all that matters. Future Iranian treachery will be somebody else's problem to deal with; this agreement simply will not be vitiated on his watch, no matter what. This permissive posture is why Secretary of State John Kerry has declared that contraventions related to rogue missile tests do not constitute material violations of the broader agreement, and why the State Department is gamely reassuring Iranian officials that Congress' recent action restricting visa waivers won't impact the nuclear pact's "normalization" requirements. The US must live by the letter of the (unsigned non-) law, while studiously tolerating ongoing Iranian malfeasance. The regime recognizes American weakness and is rubbing our noses in it at every opportunity. I'll leave you with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker -- who I've argued has been unfairly maligned vis-a-vis the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act -- enumerating the ways in which Obama's new era of US-Iranian relations is off to an awful start: