Iran claims that it can level Israel ‘in less than eight minutes,’ and the Obama administration has once again showed its penchant for fecklessness regarding the Middle East. This brazen declaration from Iranian military officials comes after their new 2,000km-range missiles that were tested over the past couple of weeks proved to be fairly accurate (via Daily Mail):
Iran has boasted it is capable of destroying Israel 'in less than eight minutes' - two weeks after testing missiles which can reach the state.
Senior military adviser Ahmad Karimpour said the country had the capacity to 'raze the Zionist regime' using the 'abilities and equipment' Iran had at its disposal.
The warning came just weeks after Iran claimed to have successfully tested 2,000km-range missiles capable of hitting Israel.
According to the Times of Israel, Karimpour - an adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit al-Quds Force - said: 'If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.'
Earlier this month, Tehran military chiefs hailed the accuracy of a rocket it claimed could leave the Earth's atmosphere before hitting its target 'without error'.
These ballistic missile tests were part of the months-long negotiations over the nation’s nuclear program, but the U.S. and other world powers decided to water down language directed at its missile program in a way that these tests, while disconcerting, are allowed under international law (via U.S. News and World Report):
There was never any explicit linkage between Iran’s nuclear and missile programs in the negotiations with Iran and six world powers – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The topic of limiting Iran’s missiles came up early in the proceedings, Iran balked and the United States dropped the matter. It did not seem to be a problem, since the United Nations and other international organizations already had sets of restrictions in place. But most of those limitations were dropped under the final terms of the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
On the same day at the U.N., U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power agreed that the missile test “merits a [Security] Council response.” But Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin objected, saying that Iran’s missile test did not violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted in July 2015 as part of the nuclear deal’s implementation.
Resolution 2231 rescinded six previous resolutions aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. In particular, it negated Resolution 1929, which instructed that “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.” This language was the basis for a number of national and international missile-related sanctions.
Contrast the powerful enabling language of resolution 1929 with the feeble text that replaced it in resolution 2231: “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, until the date eight years after the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] Adoption Day or until the date on which the [International Atomic Energy Agency] submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”
Under the old legal regime, Iran was told it “shall not” engage in missile programs, and member states were empowered to take “all necessary measures” to prevent missile technology transfer. Under the new deal, Iran is simply “called upon” not to continue its missile program for eight years at the most, and member states are not granted any specific powers to stop it. Somehow in the rush to reach a deal acceptable to Iran, the anti-missile language was watered down to the point of irrelevance.
[Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly] Churkin believes that this is a critical legal difference. "A call is different from a ban,” he said, “so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call." Power denounced this as Russia “lawyering its way to look for reasons not to act,” and a “call” versus a “ban” is a distinction without a difference.
Well, they’re doing it, and this administration doesn’t seem to see the nefarious intent. After all, Iran had missiles that can reach Israel. What they’re really after are missile packages that can reach us—here in the United States. But that’s a homework assignment for the next guy or gal in the Oval.